Our celebration of Costa Rica’s Independence Day - September 15 - was a rich cultural experience for students and staff alike, thanks to the wonderful work of Cultural Coordinator Daisy (with support from teachers and Experiential Education mentors)!
Students prepared for the celebration in their cultural immersion Spanish classes, learning key facts and grammar to make the most out of the occasion.
Our community then joined the youngsters at our neighborhood elementary school to help them make traditional faroles – paper lanterns – for the evening parade.
Our students participated in the parade, proudly marching alongside their elementary school buddies. The next morning, Daisy and our entire daytime staff collaborated to prepare and serve a traditional Costa Rican breakfast – nothing gets our students engaged like good food!
Happy Independence Day, Costa Rica!
Mother’s Day – and moms – are taken seriously in Costa Rica. Every August 15th is a national holiday, when families take time off from school and work to honor the mothers in their lives. With the help of Daisy, our Cultural Immersion Coordinator, our students and staff were able to thank our special community of moms, both those who work with our students every day as well as our wonderful homestay mothers.
Daisy and her team organized a special Mother’s Day dinner, where students not only sat with and entertained their NSA moms, but were in charge of serving fresh fish with shrimp, cleaning up, and even washing the dishes so that these mothers didn’t have to lift a finger. The evening culminated with students and all of our moms dancing into the night. Happy Mother’s Day to all of our moms!
Each year, nearly two million Costa Ricans express their faith and the importance of family in a pilgrimage to the Cathedral in Cartago (Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles), with some people walking hundreds of miles in the days approaching the holiday. As part of our Cultural Immersion program, our students and staff have participated every year for over a decade in the pilgrimage, though we don’t walk quite that far! Daisy works tirelessly to ensure that our students are prepared for and enjoy the experience, which is always a success!
Our relationship with Hogar de Vida – our neighboring children’s home in Atenas – continues to provide our students with unforgettable opportunities to interact with children of all ages who give so much back to us through their joy.
Each week, Daisy, Vianney and staff from all departments accompany volunteer students to help to feed, care for and, most importantly, play with infants, toddlers and children from Hogar.
It is impossible to say who enjoys these interactions more, the children or our students!
In preparation for the students' visit to Isla San Lucas, the island site of a former Costa Rican prison, Daisy and Vianney arranged for Don Jose to speak with our students.
One of the most famous writers in Costa Rica, Jose Leon Sanchez is the author of Isla de Los Hombres Solos, which tells the story of his wrongful imprisonment on the island for 20 years, until he was finally exonerated of his charges.
Meeting the author – a man who had lived through the struggles of the prison – allowed the students to view their visit through a personal lens.
NSA is unique in its ability to combine Spanish language learning opportunities with an enriching and supportive Cultural Immersion program. Daisy and Vianney, our dedicated and passionate Spanish teachers and Cultural Immersion coordinators, have built a Spanish language program which meets grammatical learning objectives by preparing students with the vocabulary and background knowledge to participate in Immersion activities.
Our Experiential Education department mentors then engage our students in Immersion activities that serve both as a culmination of their weekly studies as well as one-of-a-kind cultural learning experiences.
Check out some of our recent Cultural Immersion activities!
Our Peru trip culminated in a journey to the sacred Incan site of Machu Picchu. Early in the morning, students boarded a train which snaked its way along the Urubamba River to the town of Aguascalientes, where we hopped on buses for the winding road to Machu Picchu. We spent the day learning about the history and architecture of this bucket-list wonder of the world and UNESCO heritage site, before returning to the Sacred Valley. On our final day, the owner of our guiding company, Piero, and his family welcomed us into their home for a celebratory barbeque!
Thanks to students, staff, families, and the wonderful guides at Terra Explorer for helping to make this year’s International Aventura to Peru such an amazing experience!
After three days of intensive workshops in preparation for Peru, our community braved a red-eye flight to arrive at over 11,000 feet in Cusco - the ancient capital of the Incan Empire - to get physically and mentally acclimatized for the adventures to come. Our first days included an historical tour of the city, a mountain-bike ride through the stunning landscape surrounding the Sacred Valley, and a day of community service with the Amaru people.
This indigenous village welcomed us into their homes with music and smiles, explained their way of life revolving around farming and weaving of textiles, and worked side-by-side with our students as we tilled the soil using traditional tools in preparation for planting potatoes. The Amaru then prepared a hearty lunch of quinoa, potatoes and guinea pig – a traditional delicacy in Peru.
In order to prepare students for their upcoming adventure to Peru, the teachers and academic staff facilitated three days of workshops so that this international experience is as rich as possible. When NSA journeys to a new destination, it is important that we do so as travelers, not tourists. These workshops were intentionally designed with that goal in mind.
Students have been working with our English teacher to learn the intricacies of travel writing, studying the history of Peru with our Social Studies teacher, learning travel etiquette and curiosity with our Coordinator of Student Success, and pondering how travel changes them and their destinations through daily reflective writing.
Keep an eye out for exciting photos and stories in our next issue from this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!