By Nicholas Bainbridge// News Editor
During the 2019 Spring break, a couple of students traveled to Costa Rica but, this was not a vacation. It was a service trip to help some of the citizens of Ciudad Cortes become more proficient in English.
High Point University students visited Tres Rios School, an elementary school in Ciudad Cortes where they acted as teachers. In this capacity, they instructed people in proper English through a myriad of interactive lessons and activities, not just with children, but with adults as well. While many of the students were young, some adults showed up to the lessons to gain an understanding of English as well.
The project was arranged by the HPU Volunteer Center in collaboration with Hibiscus Travels, an organization that facilitates many study abroad and volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica. Shauna Zupan, one of the coordinators of the event from the HPU Volunteer Center, expressed that she was quite satisfied with the arrangements made by Hibiscus Travels and expressed interest in collaborating with them once again.
“I would highly recommend working with Hibiscus Travels to anyone looking for a great volunteer and cultural experience,” said Zupan. “We do plan to work with Hibiscus Travels again in the future and are currently looking at going to Costa Rica with them again in the Spring of 2020.”
The HPU students were kept busy during their stay in Costa Rica, but they remained passionate and driven throughout the experience. Shauna Zupan expressed that she was impressed with how the volunteers conducted themselves and noted that they have opened up future opportunities for themselves by going on this trip.
“My thoughts on the trip and how the students performed is that they did a wonderful job,” said Zupan. “They were excited and energized to get to school every morning and evening and to plan different fun and interactive lessons and activities for both the adults and children. They really had a fun time teaching and some are even interested in potential internships with Hibiscus Travels for the 2019-2020 school year where they can return to Ciudad Cortes and continue the work they started and get some experience in marketing with the company.”
The volunteers’ dedication was acknowledged and appreciated by the young people they taught, who were pleased to see them each day. When the service trip was coming to a close, the students of Tres Rios School presented the volunteers with handmade cards expressing their heartfelt appreciation for the help they had provided. The adult students in the program also expressed their gratitude through kind words as they asked them to stay and teach longer.
The HPU Volunteer Center hosts service trips like this one each semester, selecting a location and job based on the expressed interest from students. Students interested in participating in a project such as the Costa Rica trip should fill out an application with the Volunteer Center communicating why they wish to be considered and what makes service so essential. The next planned service trip is scheduled for Fall 2019 and is to take place in Guatemala, and beyond that, there are plans to return to Costa Rica next year.
The representatives of High Point University posing together at Tres Rios School after a long day of teaching English to elementary schoolers. Photo by Shauna Zupan