In July, 20 middle school Spanish language students embarked on their biennial immersion trip to Costa Rica, absorbing the country’s rich culture and natural beauty while bolstering their Spanish language skills.
After arriving in the town of Grecia, the students, along with middle school Spanish teachers Julie Pinzas and Susan Moling and upper school Spanish teacher Diana Moss, settled in for the night and prepared for their visit to San Luis the next day. Zip-lining across the San Luis rainforest was an exciting start to the second day, which also saw the students sampling Costa Rican cuisine and learning more about the history and architecture of Grecia.
Day three started with a visit to ACCE language school, where the students were placed in small groups for their Spanish lessons. “As usual, they impressed the director and Costa Rican teachers with their Spanish!” Pinzas said. After their time at ACCE, the students trekked from Grecia up to Volcan Poas, a nearby active volcano.
Another memorable day was spent at La Carpio, a neighborhood made up primarily of Nicaraguan immigrants, where the students helped the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation paint a house. Other students played with the local children. “It was touching to see how naturally our group used their Spanish to communicate with the children and how sad all of them were to say goodbye,” Pinzas said.
On another day, the group visited Manuel Antonio National Park and enjoyed a hike through the rainforest that eventually lead them to a beach, “which looked like it was from a movie set with majestic palm trees surrounding a turquoise bay,” Pinzas reported. The capuchin monkeys playing above were a welcome sight for the students, who also greatly enjoyed a few hours splashing in the water.
The group also spent a day learning some staple Latin dance moves. “Our instructor, Jason, taught us how to do the Bachata, Merengue and some fun ways to turn your partner,” Pinzas wrote. “He was impressed on how enthusiastic our students were and their level of understanding.” The next day, they returned to La Carpio, where one group of students helped set up a pop-up library and another visited a preschool, where they helped the children prepare for entry into Costa Rican schools.
The group also visited the town of Sarchí, known for the Pan-American Highway that connects Central and South America. “Sarchí is also renowned for its colorfully painted oxcart wheels and beautifully hand-carved wood furniture and crafts,” said Pinzas. The students spent the day painting their own wheels, learning the basics under the tutelage of a local artist.
The next day was spent at Centro Educativo Nuevo Milenio, where they engaged in an interactive speaking activity and games with their Costa Rican friends. Later in the day, the students performed at a talent show. “The show was truly amazing!” Pinzas exclaimed. “We were all awed and inspired by many of the performances which included several truly creative modern dances by both individuals and grade-level groups.”