Participant Name: Stephan Pham

Major:  Economics, Minor in Sociology

Year: First year

Pronouns: He, Him, His

¡Hola mis amigos! My name is Stephen Pham and I am excited to become a part of the Costa Rica Program Participant Team this year. I am currently a first-year Economics Major with aims to minor in Sociology and to specialize in the School of Social Sciences’ International Issues and Economics. I am a Vietnamese-American first-generation student from San Jose, California (Coincidentally also a city in Costa Rica!).

It was in my hometown where two beloved teachers introduced me to the complexities of the Spanish language and diverse cultures and histories (dance, religion, food, architecture). Transitioning into college, I am hoping to expand on the knowledge and experiences that I gained from my San Jose mentors in order to one day become a teacher myself. Being that I am a first-time traveler, I see the Costa Rica Program as one of the stepping stones that will assist in my development as a leader and future educator. I know challenges lie ahead but I am eagerly looking forward to the challenge of adapting to a new territory. I first became exposed to Costa Rica when I was assigned a history group project about Latin America that tasked students with understanding the social, political, economic, and cultural development and progression of countries such as Costa Rica.

I am hoping to integrate my history and economics education with the daily lives of the Costa Rican communities. Furthermore, I see this program as helping me bridge the gap between my education and the reality of Costa Rican citizens. Essentially, I want to gain insight into what was not taught in textbooks and see first hand how the society and culture of Costa Rica differs and overlaps from my communities of Irvine and San Jose.