A Spanish Immersion / Service Learning Trip to Costa Rica

During spring break, a group of Solebury School students traveled to the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica to take part in a community service project with Abriendo Mentes, a nonprofit organization that works to empower and educate youth in underserved communities. Teachers Kim Alligood, Laura De Cerchio and Angelo Coclanis chaperoned the trip.

Our group stayed with host families in houses located around a soccer field, the social epicenter of nearly every Costa Rican town and where many of the Abriendo Mentes activities took place. Students helped to organize and participate in many field games ranging from duck-duck-goose (with little kids) to kickball and lacrosse. They also took part in a beach/soccer field clean up and a meticulous scrubbing of the Club de Niños, where Abriendo Mentes holds its classes. Rachael Sine, the director of Abriendo Mentes, said that she was impressed with our students' enthusiasm and maturity.

Apart from our collaboration with Abriendo Mentes, our students had ample free time to spend with their host families or at two of the beautiful local beaches, Playa Potrero and Playa Penca. Our host families were very engaging, and since very little English was spoken, it was a valuable language immersion experience for our students — our chaperones noticed a difference in our students after just days. Host families also treated our students to an array of typical Costa Rican dishes, from gallo pinto to olla de carne to homemade coconut ice cream.

And each night, our group gathered to watch the sunset on Playa Penca. One night they bought a watermelon from the back of a pick-up truck and sliced it up to make the moment even more enjoyable.