Internships and Service Learning
At the Costa Rica Center, students carry out a weeklong group service learning project in the fall semester. Students are given several options of partner organizations they can work with, and they are placed in one related to their academic interests. The main objective of service learning is for students to work with their peers in a project that fulfills a need of the host organization. Through field work experience, students are able to implement the knowledge gained through their seminars while learning through action, observation and cross-cultural communication how local organizations and individuals work to achieve specific set goals.
During the spring semester, students carry out a two-week independent field work project in Costa Rica (or approved alternative) which could be an internship, service learning project or research with one of our partner organizations, and artistic or action project. Students work with their advisor to identify and set-up an appropriate and exciting experience related to individual learning goals and academic interests, as part of the Field Work and Methods course where they design, prepare for, and document the project. The goal of this two-week experience is to put field work methods in practice, to examine theory in practice, to explore areas of academic interests and identify new ones. All projects must be approved by a faculty advisor to ensure that the proposal meets required academic and safety criteria.
Below we include a list of some of our center’s partner organizations.
ASVO, Asociación de Voluntarios para el Servicio en Áreas Protegidas - Playa Hermosa/Punta Mala y Matapalo/Dominical.
• The Volunteer Association for the Protected Areas, ASVO, is a non-profit NGO that offers volunteer opportunities in areas related to environmental control, protection, and research in Costa Rica and abroad.
• Many of our students have worked with ASVO at Playa Matapalo, a protected area where Lora marine turtles go to lay their eggs between June and December. Some of the activities they have carried out include patrolling the beach and nursery, counting turtle eggs, collecting information about the turtles, releasing baby turtles into the ocean, and beach clean-up.
Escuela en las Nubes:
• "Escuela en las Nubes" is an educational program that seeks to raise children's awareness of environmental preservation. The program also has a dog shelter with over 100 stray dogs that have been picked up and taken care of. The center's philosophy is to promote the integrity and value of all living things.
• Students who work with Escuela en las Nubes are able to help out at the animal shelter, walk blind dogs, help abused dogs regain trust, and help with trail maintenance.
• Cedral is a small coffee- producing community located in the buffer zones of the Chirripó National Park and La Amistad International Park. This area provides water to many communities in the San Isidro Valley. In their search for sustainability, this community has developed a strong environmental education program, sustainable farming and environmentally friendly practices for processing coffee. They are also trying to sell their coffee through fair trade organizations.
• At Cedral, our students have helped in the construction of a plant nursery, a coffee dryer, and clearing out areas to make them suitable for planting.
Boruca Indigenous Community
• Boruca is an indigenous community of the Brunca ethnic group. During colonial times the Bruncas were enslaved by the Spaniards and their culture became seriously endangered. Over the last 20 years the Brunca people have done a conscious and consistent effort to regain their culture and traditions. Today they are known for their beautiful masks and naturally dyed and traditionally woven bags.
• Students who collaborate in this project have worked in the community’s Museo de Cultura (Museum of Culture) and in the construction of more classrooms at the local high school.
Fundación Humanitaria Costarricense
The Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation (CRHF) was is a non-profit organization committed to developing creative and economical solutions to a wide range of social problems in Costa Rica. The CRHF provides opportunities to exchange friendship, goods, services, and financial resources for critical needs among different cultures, socio-economic classes, and language groups. The vision of CRHF is to create a better quality of life for all those who they work with, supporting at-risk and special needs populations so they may have more choices for their future and fostering greater sensitivity in populations providing services.
Many of our students have worked with their projects in La Carpio, a community located in the northeast part of San José. It is home to some 23,000 people, about half of them impoverished Nicaraguan immigrants. Costa Rica’s Mixed Social Aid Institute has estimated the monthly income of the majority of La Carpio’s families at between 60,000 and 75,000 colones (US$130-165), not enough to cover the cost of basic provisions. CRHF has many different social projects in La Carpio which allows for students that are interested in working with children, youth, women and other social groups to help with existing projects as well as implement new ideas and initiatives.
Past student experiences in La Carpio have included: working with children at the after-school Day Care Center, working with women’s groups at the community center, helping to improve the infrastructure of the community, fundraising and building a community park, among other community generated initiatives.