Villas Mastatal

Sign reading 'Villas'At Villas Mastatal, an organic farm and education center, I saw many wonderful things and learned that when people get creative they are able to find multiple uses to everything in the world. Here, every item is unique in its own way and had more than one use such as the glass bottles, the food that became compost, and the trees that grew and produced food to eat and then was turned into compost. It all helps the environment, the people, the animals, and the insects. It’s like a cycle of life and it is amazing. The Ticos showed me how much of life they love. You’ll soon understand what I mean.  Continue reading “Villas Mastatal”

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.

Continue reading “So You Wanna Be Fluent?”

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.

Continue reading “The Beautiful Game”

A Night in the Jungle

A Bark Scorpion held by hand.

Our second day in Costa Rica we were given the opportunity to hike in the jungle. In order to reach the cabins where we would sleep for our night in the jungle, we had to hike about two hours, led by local guides Deiber and Rigo. Once there the team split up into two groups: one group would embark on a night tour of the jungle, while the second group would stay and have dinner before going into the jungle.

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2015 Costa Rica Program Research Symposium

Monday May 11th 4:30-7pm
Student Center Pacific Ballroom

FREE and open to students, faculty, staff and community members
RSVP Online today!

2012 Costa Rica Program Research Symposium

Please join the 2015 Costa Rica Program for a night of sharing, learning, and discussion at their Research Symposium on Monday, May 11th from 4:30-7pm in the Student Center Pacific Ballroom. This past spring break 16 dedicated UCI students traveled to Costa Rica for a week of global sustainability and cultural immersion. The event includes a presentation about the program and a research fair showcasing the student research projects conducted while in Costa Rica. Dress is business and Costa Rican inspired heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served during the research fair.

This year, we will be joined by the Global P.E.A.C.E. program, a Student Affairs Innovation Grant program, that also traveled to Costa Rica during spring break as part of a pilot program and focused on peace education. As part of the research symposium, they will share some highlights during the program and participate in the fair afterwards.

The Costa Rica Program has been supported by many stakeholders and we are excited to share our experiences, research and memories of Costa Rica. Please RSVP by 5 PM on Friday, May 1st to attend the event. This event is open to the campus community and public, however RSVPs are required and the event is filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you have questions about the program or event, please leave a comment on this post. We look forward to seeing you at this engaging event!


UC Irvine’s The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF)

Bowel Movements Without Borders: What is Privacy Doing to Community?

Sunrise over Mastatal in Costa Rica.
Sunrise over Mastatal in Costa Rica.
Shadows might lurk in the valley of Mastatal, but no secrets are found here.

During my stay in Costa Rica, I spent two nights with a local host in the small rural community of Mastatal. The home, like many others in the community, was constructed in familiar fashion: floor, external walls, internal walls and roof were all accounted for. Notably, however, there was no ceiling; that is, there was substantial space between the top of the internal walls and the roof above.

This seemed of little consequence until I found myself familiarized with the bowel movements of our host: Lus Milda.

Photo depicting bedroom with gap between interior wall and roof.
See that gap between wall and roof – that’s the culprit right there!
And her daughter. And her son-in-law. Not to mention the construction worker, the elementary school teacher, the high school teacher and the assistant principal of the regional school board, and of course, the two other program participants who were all sharing in Lus Milda’s hospitality. Having the bed positioned immediately adjacent to the bathroom I would hear everything (and more!) that is to be expected from a diet of rice and beans. Subsequently, when it came time for me to make a deposit, I was very aware of the fact that I had an unwilling audience. Privacy, then, was compromised.

Continue reading “Bowel Movements Without Borders: What is Privacy Doing to Community?”

The Secrets to a 5 Bar Connection in Rural Costa Rica

A rotting log supports wildlife growth in the forest.You find yourself hiking at the Hacienda Baru Wildlife Rescue in Costa Rica. The protected forest is turning out to be quite a scene; only five minutes into the hike and you are entranced with the sounds that raw nature has in store.

You look up and spot a three-toed sloth hanging on a tree, and as you glance a second time, you notice that it’s a mama sloth. Her youngling is hugging tight onto her belly. Suddenly you feel something crawling on your feet. You look down and there are hundreds of huge Hormiga ants marching single file onto your foot.  You are experiencing so much and you want to share the essence of the moment with your closest thousand friends on social media.  To do that you take out your phone, but you realize that you have zero service. How can you obtain a strong 5 bar connection? Well, unfortunately I am no cellphone expert, but I know a thing or two about having a strong connection with nature and living in the moment.  The following is a small guide that will help you experience Costa Rica closer to the way the locals experience it. These tips helped me feel more connected with the pura vida lifestyle while I was in country. Continue reading “The Secrets to a 5 Bar Connection in Rural Costa Rica”