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Grade 9 Costa Rica Trip: Opening New Doors

David-Jared Matthews, Reporter

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[Note: The reporter is a 9th grader and travelled with the rest of the grade to Costa Rica.  The report was prepared on location.]

COSTA RICA – Two weeks ago, Stanwich’s 9th graders embarked on a Costa Rican expedition.

The adventure lasted for eight days, in which students were able to step outside their classroom, use their Spanish speaking skills to interact with locals, and learn outside of the traditional classroom setting.

The main purpose of the trip was to give back to the community.  Students spent two days in a Costa Rican community called Martinas Bustus, where they built a playground and a kitchen for kids.  Martina Bustus does not even get acknowledged as a part of the larger surrounding community, so the 9th grade’s impact was huge to the kids and the rest of the community there. Students were able to make friends with the kids and utilize their Spanish speaking skills to the best of their abilities.

After that, students went to Hermosa Beach.  At Hermosa Beach, they helped at a camping spot that lets anyone camp right by the beach at no cost.  Most camping spots in Costa Rica charge for the night, but this can be very expensive.  There, students painted rocks to build a trail and attempted to build a compost bin.  After completing the project, students played by the beach before snorkeling the next day.

Students observed sea life, including fish and coral; items that you can’t see in Greenwich.  Students connected with their surroundings in order to explore the ocean in two different spots.  They learned about how the oceans are treated in Costa Rica and how important water is to Costa Ricans.

The 9th graders then progressed onto a five hour hike in a national park. The goal was to hike to the waterfall and hike back to where they began.  Throughout the hike, students observed the beautiful natural surroundings and even saw monkeys hanging from the trees.

The last full day was spent at a resort, where students started the day early, ziplining through the Costa Rican jungle over trees and even bodies of water.  Students had the choice to either go on a waterslide or go horseback riding through the mountains.  Later on as a group, students went to the hot springs, where they relaxed and debriefed after a hardworking trip.

Every night, students participated in a conversation about crucial topics to the environment and to their community in a “Manifesto.”  Students also reflected on the highs and lows of the day, and on the last night, the group reflected on the highs and lows of the trip as a whole.  Reflection was a very large part of the trip and students were able to bring their knowledge back to others, including the Stanwich community.

In the Manifesto, 9th Grader Luis Divar said, “The trip to Costa Rica has opened new doors for me.  In this amazing trip, I have been able to intigrate myself into the community, and I have met people that I will never forget.”

This was Mr. Fletcher’s, Upper School science teacher and 9th grade advisor, tenth year traveling to Costa Rica with Stanwich’s 9th graders.  He always reminds his students to “live in the moment” stating, “it’s not our trip (referring to himself and Mr. Mineo) – it’s yours.”

Costa Rica was unforgettable and an experience of a lifetime that would not have been possible without champerones Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Mineo and the tour guides at Chill Expeditions.

Story by David-Jared Matthews, Reporter

Edited by Maeve Sebold, Editor-in-Chief

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Grade 9 Costa Rica Trip: Opening New Doors