This February, thirteen students in sixth and seventh grades embarked on an amazing adventure: a Spanish Immersion trip to Costa Rica! With the goals of expanding language fluency and introducing authentic cultural touchstones as well as arts awareness, naturalist studies, and sustainability practices, the trip has been a life-changing experience for the girls, who were led by Campus Communications Manager Betsy Sidebottom and Visual Arts faculty member Tina Hirsig. A highlight was the group’s visit to an indigenous Bribri community in the mountains. The following is an excerpt from a journal Sidebottom kept along with students:

“The girls were exhausted from a full day, so they actually slept well at the Bribri community—even with all of the excitement from the night before and the many noises of the ‘jungle.’ We certainly didn’t need a noise maker because we had a forest full of crickets, dogs howling, and other noises to put us to sleep. None of us know exactly what we heard around 4 a.m.—perhaps a crew of howling monkeys!

Following breakfast, we learned how to use a bow and arrow. Whoever hit the target won a piece of chocolate. Unfortunately, none of us were skilled enough to hit the target, but we all had fun trying! Next, we were given a full lesson on how chocolate is made. We tasted it directly from the fruit, helped mash the beans, and cranked the beans into a smooth chocolate. As a reward, we enjoyed bananas with fresh-made chocolate. What a treat to follow the entire process!

Our final excursion in the Bribri community was a walk through a winding, muddy path and occasional trails and mounds of ants. It rained very hard in the middle of the night! With muddy feet we arrived at a creek with a swimming spot, which was a great way to end our time in the area. Several of the girls even braved the chilly waters!

Soon it was time to pick up the bags and make the trek down to the river. We enjoyed Costa Rica on our left and Panama on our right. Several of us touched plants on the right so I suppose we can say we went to Panama, right?

What a memorable stay on the Bribri land!”