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This summer CIRENAS hosted our third short course from Phillips Exeter Academy, with a great group of students from ESSO, the Exeter Social Service Organization. The group was eager to apply their experience with community service to a new culture and a new environment, and accordingly, we headed straight to the town of Quebradas de Nando to begin a four-day homestay. The students taught English lessons, repainted the façade of the school, helped out with other projects around the community, and practiced their Spanish. A US vs Costa Rica soccer match took place; the home team triumphed, predictably, by a score of 11-3. The students were also able to take part in a traditional Guanacasteco festival called a Cabalgata, an event that celebrates cowboy culture and features horsemanship competitions.

The group then transitioned to the CIRENAS campus, where they directed their service ethic toward the natural environment: transplanting trees, doing beach clean-ups and learning about the Costa Rican conservation system with a visit to Cabo Blanco, the first protected area in the country.

Self-Reflection Quote by Calais

“The Cirenas campus is an eco-palace. There, everything you thought you knew about the merits of technology, the economy of Costa Rica, the effect you have on the environment and the number of shorts you should have brought on the trip, will be challenged… You will surf for the first time and love it, ride a horse for the second time and be petrified, and get so close with the group that getting on the plane will feel like leaving home, not coming home.”