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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“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

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

A Better Appreciation Without Affiliation

Center aisle of Alajuela cathedralFrom the moment I stepped in, the air felt different. The cool darkness of the church was a welcome relief from the lethargic humidity of the Costa Rican afternoon. The inside of the church seemed much larger than I expected having seen the church from the outside. The majority of the church was filled with pews that remained mostly empty during the service I attended due to the service being held on a Tuesday instead of Thursday. Other than the five people from our group and Ruth, Bonnie and Marcos’ mom coming from Siempre Verde, only one other young man attended the service. Continue reading

So You Wanna Be Fluent?

A sign reading 'bienvenidos' - 'welcome'As I walk down the plane aisle looking for my seat, I become aware of the low murmurs of Spanish conversation around me. Attendants greet me in Spanish as I pass by. I start to feel the slight beginnings of apprehension. This isn’t like Spanish class! People talk faster than I’m used to and from where I’m standing, I can’t hear one sliver of English dialogue at all.

It’s not until the attendants give flight safety instructions that I hear English again and it’s only a translation of the Spanish announcements. During the plane ride to San Jose, Costa Rica, it slowly begins to sink in that we’ll be immersed in Spanish for the next week and a half. It’ll be my first time in an environment like this for a prolonged period of time.

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The Beautiful Game

Participants and locals pose in front of soccer goals.

When I was 6 years old I played in my first soccer game. I will never forget the day I received my “team purple” shirt; the first soccer jersey I ever owned. The purple jersey was a tad large for my little frame, but it was absolutely awesome nonetheless. I remember wearing it the whole day and night before the game and imaging scoring a goal for the first time. To this day I have never been so anxious to get on the field.

Finally, the time came to play and the referee started the game.

The next hour or so ended up culminating in one of the single greatest memories I have of my entire life. I went on to score the winning goal in the last play of the game. Since that cool Saturday morning at my local city park, the beautiful game of soccer has continued to be the most positive influential aspect of my life, presenting me with lasting friendships, teaching me the importance of teamwork, showing me how to win and lose, and also guiding me towards opportunities that I could only dream of as a child.

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