Our neighbors, the amazing children and staff at Hogar de Vida, continue to enrich our students’ lives and experiences by opening their doors and their arms. Each week, our dedicated Cultural Coordinator Daisy leads a team of student volunteers who visit the children’s home to spend time with the little ones playing, helping with dinner, and running around like kids themselves!
Daisy also organizes weekend activities, picnics and parties, sharing our students’ culture with the children, and providing small --but needed-- breaks for the tias (aunties) who give so much of their time and love.
In the coming weeks, Daisy and the NSA community will be spearheading a fundraiser for our wonderful neighbors who give so much. Keep an eye out for information in our next newsletter about how you can help!
Students arriving at NSA for the first time have a great deal to process: new peers, new teachers, new rules and expectations – even a new country. In order to provide the most support possible during transition into the New Summit Academy community, our Orientation program guides each student as he immerses into a new, exciting experience.
Orientation begins with meeting a mentor: a senior student who serves as a “go-to” person for any questions or needs. That mentor accompanies his mentee on a weekend-long Orientation Aventura, where peers and staff introduce new students to the NSA handbook, explain how the program functions, and answer any questions that arrive. Upon returning to campus, new students complete a series of meetings, steps, readings and more in order to quickly and comfortably become part of our community -- ready to set goals to continue on the path to success.
Students took to the trails of Corcovado National Park ready to explore the most biologically intense place on earth. The group's student documentarian recorded footage for a short film, while other students took turns in the role of Student Naturalist, spotting and identifying Baird's tapirs, anteaters, and caimans in the wild.
Biologists from the University of Costa Rica shared the results of a ten-year study about the diverse species of fungi endemic to the park, enhancing class discussions about the symbiotic relationships of rainforest organisms.
New Summit Academy’s Academic and Experiential Education programs are designed to immerse students in the language and culture of Costa Rica, forging cross-cultural perspectives and understanding as we work to develop Global Citizens.
Beginner and Intermediate Spanish classes prepare students for these immersion experiences by studying grammar through the lens of weekend cultural activities, which serve as culminating experiential learning opportunities. Weekend activities range from local festivities and horse parades, to sporting events, coffee plantation tours, museum visits and more.
Students in advanced Spanish classes have an additional opportunity to work with our Spanish teacher and Cultural Coordinator, Daisy, in designing immersive experiences based on their interests and passions, and solidifying their Spanish Language skills in fun, hands-on ways.
The opportunities are unique to New Summit Academy, and we are proud to offer them as integral parts of our program.
A key part of NSA’s mission to nurture students toward becoming more relationship-based, goal-driven, resourceful global citizens is the idea of giving back to people and communities. During their stays, our students engage in countless opportunities to give back, from mentoring new students to volunteering at Hogar de Vida.
Our students work side-by-side with the Osa Conservation preserving turtle habitats, beautify local schools, and teach free English lessons in town. And something seems to stick, because our school is lucky enough to have graduates continually expressing that they want to give back by becoming interns, contributing to a program that once guided them.
Read for yourselves from a recent letter written by a 2014 graduate:
I was checking out the NSA website a second ago and felt compelled to email. Partly to thank you and also update you on my life.
I am in my second semester of my sophomore year at UNCW. I am on track to be a Psych Major/Spanish Double and or Minor (depending on the next few semesters). I work in the summers as a surf instructor and the rest of the year as a Manny (male nanny) for a family with a 9 year old boy and a 13 year old boy. I know GPA does not indicate everything but I have a steady 3.0. In July I will study abroad in Port Elizabeth South Africa for the semester.
How is New Summit Academy? Has the profile of students been changing at all? Mike W. and I keep in touch a good deal and he spoke very fondly of his time at NSA, especially working with you. I hope to come back at some point and work with NSA. It says something about the program that some students are compelled to come back and work with the students.
I am very thankful for my experience at NSA. It was an ineffable experience at certain points but my overall feelings remain positive and grateful. Choosing to take a year off was a very hard decision but a pivotal decision that I hold to my identity/sense of self. I always enjoyed talking travel with you and all you encouraged me to do.
I know you are very busy but I thought that I would extend this to you.
This Aventura begins with a 3-day backpacking journey into the chilly cloud forest of Tapanti National Park. On the very first day, after arriving at the park station, the group happened to see a wounded resplendent quetzal being transported to the Zoo Ave sanctuary in Alajuela. Renowned for its vibrant plumage and long streamer tail, the quetzal inhabits the humid highlands of Costa Rica, where protected lands offer this threatened species safe haven.
The experience was the perfect springboard for that day's class on the interconnectedness of cloud forest biomes and human interactions with local species. The class discussion focused on human impacts and important efforts to help rare species like the quetzal.
The trip ended on a high note with two days of adrenaline-pumping rafting on the Class III and IV rapids of the mighty Pacuare River.
Students on the Kayak Aventura found a true sense of cohesion and authenticity as they paddled their way across the glassy waters of the Golfo Dulce.
When they weren't chest-deep in mangrove estuaries for hands-on classes, the guys were catching their dinner (fresh snapper and mackeral!) on handlines as they kayaked through this amazing ecosystem.
Crowning moments included:
Community Service marks the first of NSA's Integrated Aventuras, and with more than half of the student body participating in this initial adventure, this group was amazingly cohesive. Students showed great initiative and cooperation on both an individual and group basis during their week on the Osa Peninsula, where service was aimed at monitoring endangered sea turtle nesting sites and local reforestation efforts.
According to Aventura staff, the guys were consistently engaged in academic lessons, resulting in dynamic conversations.
Aventura highlights included:
New Summit Academy and our Young Adult Bridge Program are collaborating on a presentation at the annual National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) conference in Tucson, Arizona later this month. Executive Director Heather Tracy and Danny Recio, Program Director for the Bridge, are working together to present “To Surf or Not to Surf? The Benefits and Risks of Allowing Internet Use in Therapeutic Programs.”
NSA believes the important, positive identity forming and community building benefits of allowing students to share their experiences and growth online outweigh the risks, and Heather and Danny will be delving into this topic before a gathering of professionals in the industry. NSA is proud to continue sharing our cutting-edge practices to help improve student services in all programs.
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!