The students from Phillips Exeter Academy’s ESSO program are used to service learning, these students organize service projects, fundraisers and other activities throughout the year, but their experience at CIRENAS took them to a new culture and outside of their comfort zones where all of them learned a lot not only about the surrounding environment and community but a lot about themselves as well.
This trip has been utterly life changing for me. Everything seems more vivid in Costa Rica, as if the work is taking place in its truest reality. They have a saying here, “Pura Vida”-the Pure Life- that I have felt echoed in every element of my experience. From our wonderful guides, Caroline and Tucker, who were clearly so passionate about CIRENAS and what it means for the land and people of Costa Rica, to the adventures we had with them and each other-horseback riding and hiking through Ario Ranch, planting fruit trees at local schools and in the orchard, and kayaking through mangrove trees-everything led me to a greater awareness and respect for the cultures and ecosystems of such a foreign, yet integrally connected place.
Particularly enlightening was the home stay our group took in the village of Quebradas de Nando while we were teaching the local children English and helping with community projects. I discovered to my delight that American values now considered the hallmark of a different generation-generosity, hard work, and family bonds-are still thriving in the relationships of these Latin American people. For them, and for their warmth and way of like, I am inspired to preserve the environment they call home. Thanks, immeasurable thanks, for this opportunity.”