Dallas Academy students embarked on their annual trip abroad this spring, this year exploring the beauty of Costa Rica. The trip promised to be adventurous and fun, but also proved to be educational for all attendees. Joshua Expeditions, a tour guide company out of Dallas, provided the Dallas Academy community truly a trip of a lifetime.
Dallas Academy science teachers Shaheen Salam and Amy Delaney, along with Spanish teacher Allison Albani, accompanied fourteen upper school students to Costa Rica in March. The goal of the trip was to immerse students in the Spanish language as well as provide hands on opportunities to study ecology, geology, history, culture, foreign social structures, and economics. “So much learning happens when the textbook is closed and students can see, touch, and explore for themselves,” says Elizabeth Murski, Head of Upper School at Dallas Academy. “There is no better way to learn about a culture than by going out and experiencing it for yourself.”
The trip began in the capital city of San Jose, with a visit to a traditional Costa Rican market. Students quickly learned to navigate the fast paced market in their second language. Adventure also began quickly with a group trip white water rafting on the Saripiqui River. The challenging river has class two and three rapids and runs from the country’s highest mountain range to the coastal lowlands of the Atlantic.
A road trip to the city of Fortuna provided students the opportunity to hike through the Ecocentro Danaus and learn about the rainforest’s eco-system and indigenous plants and animal populations. Later, students traveled through the Arenal National Park to reach the Arenal Volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The volcano was still steaming from an eruption two years earlier. The power and enormity of the volcano had a significant impact on the Dallas Academy students.
Once in a lifetime adventures were packed into the trip. Students felt on top of the word while soaring on canopy zip lines and Tarzan swings in the middle of the jungle. Students were able to swim in waterfalls as well as visit hot springs to enjoy a refreshing mineral swim. A shopping trip to the small town of Sarchi gave everyone a chance to buy traditional Costa Rican artesian crafts and coffee. The trip wrapped up with a cruise on the Catamaran through the Pacific waters out to the sandy island of Tortuga. The visitors spent a relaxing day at the beach enjoying activities such as snorkeling, banana boat rides, swimming, and sun bathing.
A visit to an orphanage in Fortuna left the most profound impression on the Dallas Academy community. Students visited the Orphange Hogarcito Fortuna where they spent time playing and interacting with the local children. They delivered clothing, shoes, and toys to the residents. “The smile on the faces of these children was worth the entire trip,” commented Ms. Salam.
The Costa Rican adventure provided an enriching learning experience for Dallas Academy students. The trip provided a unique opportunity for students, not only to explore another culture and land, but to challenge themselves. For many students, this was their first trip abroad and one they will never forget.