Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Canterbury's Dedication to Costa Rica

An obsession, or a passion worth sharing?

Canterbury School's Spanish teacher would argue the latter.

For six years, Sheena Neece has returned to Costa Rica with a different - and larger - group of her Spanish students. This year, she and fellow chaperone Ryan Butcher brought 15 eager and excited students: Adrian Alea, Courtney Bagans, Sami Blaze, Alexandra Dadrat, Jace Eddy, Alex Feiock, Rachel Hachero, Janet Hamilton, Alexis Macdermott, Julianne McDonough, Talia Moorey, Joey Nicotra, Carl Nist-Lund, Amy VanPelt, and Angel Zambrano to "spread the passion" through activities such as waterfall rappelling, cooking, hiking, tree climbing, milking cows, sugar cane harvesting, and meeting homestay families.

And this itinerary hasn't changed much in six years.

Originally, when she planned this trip, she had similar goals. "I sought a unique adventure that reached beyond the formulaic Costa Rican experience commonly illustrated in travel magazines. I also hoped that students would gain a sense of leadership, self-reliance, and personal accomplishment.... And Costa Rica Outward Bound created an adventure-packed week that exceeded my expectations. I watched as the students’ eyes widened as I read aloud the itinerary, which included a waterfall rappel, three homestays, a 15-hour solo and a day at Manuel Antonio beach." (Click here for a satellite map; the arrow is about one inch west of where our base is located.)

"The daily chores such as milking cows, cooking meals, and making cheese... gave students a greater appreciation for their meals and a new perspective on life."

New perspective is not the only reason for Sheena's return every year. "Students immediately learned the importance of time efficiency and teamwork. They were each assigned jobs to maintain the daily flow of activities, and we held nightly meetings to reflect on the days’ events.... During the waterfall rappel two students and I overcame our fear of heights, and similar endeavors resulted in exceptional personal successes.... We had accomplished so many things, faced so many challenges, and overcome so many obstacles. The experience will undeniably remain an important part of our life journey."

But what did the students think?

"It was the best trip I have ever had, and I will NEVER forget it or the aweseome people who were with me."

"It was a life-changing experience that I will forever remember."

"It was a life-enhancing experience that can only be described as 'food for the soul.'"

And Sheena expects this year's fifteen students to experience the same feelings.

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