Adaptation

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.07.39 PMAccording to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Adaptation can be defined as “the process of changing to fit some purpose or situation: the process of adapting” (“Adaptation”). Every day we face change or decisions facilitate change. Traveling, of any kind, can create more change than people may realize. It may be a business trip, a vacation, or a commute to work; but it requires an adaptation. On November 20, 2015, I was selected to be a student participant in the 2016 Costa Rica Program. On March 18, 2016, I left for Costa Rica with my fellow team mates from the Los Angeles National Airport. During that time period, travel to me was just travel, you go somewhere and have fun, then go home…

…But this trip was a different story.

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Truth or Dare: A Challenge by Choice

Marcos cuts a piece of sugar cane off for daring participant Danny.

Have you ever tried a food you’ve never had before or have you ever raced against a friend to see who was the fastest? Have you ever talked to a stranger or asked a random question in class? Have you have felt a bit of nervousness going into something and decided to do it anyway?

If so, then you have been challenged whether it was by yourself or by someone else. Whether or not you have chosen to partake in it and complete it was your choice and these choices are a part of who you are. Continue reading

The Bittersweet Truth

Cacao beans with grinding stones.

I wish someone had been more honest with me. Have you ever believed in something to be so true that you could almost taste it? As a child, your life was as sweet as the chocolate melting on your fingertips on a hot summer morning… But growing up, you come to realize that it really isn’t like that. Life is bitter and so is real chocolate. Continue reading

Travel Tips for the Wallflower

A father and son enjoy shaved ice on the warm Saturday morning in the park.Our recent trip to Costa Rica was, well,… AMAZING to say the least. We laughed, we learned, we explored, but we were also challenged. We were challenged to be vulnerable and to really put ourselves out there.  Now, I wouldn’t necessarily label myself as a “wallflower,” but I’m definitely one who enjoys observing more than participating, and enjoys listening rather than talking.  That being said, when we first arrived in Costa Rica I was immediately faced with my first challenge of the trip.

My first real challenge happened in a park in the center of town. Many locals were sitting on the benches and enjoying their Saturday morning talking to each other, playing board games, people watching etc. It’s definitely not something you see often here in California. It was such a relaxing environment to be around and it felt like no one had any worries. Not only that, but there was a music festival happening as well. A live band came to play in the park where a rather large crowd of people gathered around to listen, dance, and enjoy the music. It was beautiful. I loved watching everything that was happening around me, but that was just it: I loved watching. I loved seeing the vibrant colors everywhere, listening to the music playing with laughter in the background. Continue reading

The First Costa Rica Night Fair

CostaRicanNight_8-5x11_May2015

Outreach is an important part of the Costa Rica Program and one of the ways we share our learning with the campus community is through a collaboration with UCI Dining & Hospitality. This year that collaboration led to our first ever Costa Rica Night Fair and small lunch promotion.

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Homestay Away from Home

Participants Danny, Erick and Guia with host Jimmy

Being dropped off was like the first day of Kindergarten, except we were college kids in a foreign country! It felt odd at first. Not because we were placed in the homes of complete strangers in a foreign country, but because by this point, we had already done a lot throughout the day and the week as a whole team that it felt weird to split up and experience similar, yet different situations.

Our Costa Rica trip came to a close only recently, but those ten days feel so close and so far away at the same time. I can vividly remember everything, but still feel the need to refer back to my journal to remind myself of how I felt at those exact moments. Continue reading

“Costarricenses” not “Costarriquenos”

The author with student Isaac at the primary schoolIt took several attempts to remember that when referring to Costa Ricans it is properly said “Costarricenses” not “Costarriquenos”. This became a problem when I found myself being corrected by the locals, constantly. Luckily they were not offended, rather they were understanding and extremely friendly; such characteristics seemed to be quite common among Costarricenses.

Of all the Costarricenses that I met I found the youth, in particular, very intriguing because their thought process about education and life was more enlightening than I would have ever expected. Going into the Global Sustainability & Cultural Immersion, Costa Rica Program I knew that I wanted to speak to the youth because the youth has a tendency to speaking the truth, or rather they are more honest and straightforward about their opinions on certain criteria like education and overall happiness. That being said, the entire trip was extremely rewarding but the visit we paid to the schools of Mastatal was by far the most informative and eye-opening experience of the program. Continue reading

Costa Rica Research Symposium 2015: Success!

Attendees gather around Ceci's presentation on education in Costa Rica.

The participants of the Costa Rica Program for 2015 studied a range of topics from animal migration to education, sustainable structures to health standards. Indeed, the bulk of the academic credit for the Costa Rica Program is awarded based on the research conducted in country. It is hardly surprising then that the team yielded vast sums of knowledge on a plethora of topics. These were all presented at the Costa Rica Program Research Symposium earlier this week, Monday, May 11th. Continue reading

The Four Farms of Mastatal

Markos and Erick investigate a pineapple crop.

It wasn’t until my time at Mastatal that I really saw the initiatives of global sustainability and cultural immersion intersect during this trip. It was there where one could rather clearly see the intimacy of community through the friendly encounters of the people of Mastatal. Sustainability was pervasive in the demands of everyday life, through emphasis on the minimization of impact on environment. Mastatal was a humble town of just a bit more than 120 residents. It was easy to walk along the main roads of Mastatal, even as part of a group that was visiting for a mere five days, to pass by someone who we’d previously met at the school or restaurant the day before. But what really tied it all together, through culture, sustainability, and community presence, were the four farms of Mastatal. Continue reading

The Magnificent Mangroves And Me

White Mangroves growing out of the water.There were a lot of things everyone was excited about throughout the Costa Rica trip. From homestays, food, and wildlife, it is not hard to imagine why we were excited. From the day I heard about the Costa Rica Program, I knew I was really excited about the cultural immersion aspect and learning about the wildlife in Costa Rica. However, as time went on and we learned more about the trip, I began to get excited about other things! In fact, a few hours before our flight, Jennifer asked the group what they were most excited about. From the top of my head, I knew I was most excited about ziplining and spending a night in the jungle since I believed those activities would give me a chance to learn about the wildlife and biodiversity in Costa Rica in an exciting way as well as a chance to get to challenge and get to know myself better because I would not normally do those things. Continue reading