About the Author: Adele Nolfi is a rising senior at Seton Hill University, studying Family and Consumer Sciences Education. She traveled to Costa Rica as part of a Multicultural Practicum for Seton Hill, where she taught in a high school for four days in addition to traveling around the country. Adele is involved in Education Club as the President and a member of Kappa Alpha Gamma Chapter of Kappa Omicron Nu at Seton Hill University.
When I chose to go to Costa Rica back in December I wanted to go for a great learning experience in the schools in Costa Rica but I never imagined that my life would be changed forever from this amazing experience.I remember being told that we would come home and cry wondering how we deserved the things that we had in our life. At the time, it did not mean much to me because I have never really traveled outside of Pennsylvania, but now I truly understand that statement.
When I first came home to my parents, fiancé, siblings, and work, I cried my eyes out telling them how the experience has changed me because now I appreciate all the little things and people that are in my life. I was prepared for most people to not understand what I was going through, but so many people sat and listened to my stories and saw the impact this trip has had on me.[pullquote style=”left” quote=”dark”]The biggest thing that stood out on the trip for me was how nice everyone in Costa Rica was to all of us.[/pullquote] The people we were around daily like Ricardo and Teacher Lily were phenomenal at doing their best to make sure that we all felt comfortable in their country, but the strangers were just as remarkable. The waiter at the Italian restaurant we went to saw how happy we were to be there and he chose to give us a menu from the restaurant as a souvenir. The man working at the shop where we bought the souvenirs for our parents gave us each a magnet as a thank you for purchasing items at his store. Mario, our bus driver, did his best the entire time that he was with us to make sure that we all were taken care of. I will never forget Mario running down that hill with a flashlight when he heard me scream so loud because of the geckos. Teacher Lily was truly the best host mother because she opened her heart and home to us.When I got home from the trip, I emailed Teacher Lily thanking her for all that she did for me. She responded the same day telling me that she never laughed so much with guests from the states before and at the end said “love Mom Lily”. I realized then that I truly left a part of my heart in Costa Rica and I know that I will always have Teacher Lily as my family there.
The students were truly amazing. They were all so genuinely excited that they finally got to meet us after talking to us online. All of the students I worked with acted very respectful every time that we were in the classroom and did their best to make us feel at home in their school. I was so honored when the one student drew a picture of Lindsey and myself and told us he drew it for us. There are very few people that I have met in my life that were truly nice people but I found that the majority of Costa Ricans are genuinely nice and I am so glad that I have made this remarkable friendship with some of the people in Costa Rica.
One of the hardest things about being in Costa Rica for me was seeing all of the stray dogs that were on the streets. Since I have five dogs at home, I am obviously a dog lover and every time I saw one of the dogs when we were driving or when we were out it broke my heart. I was very surprised that the dogs were not taken it to some people’s homes but Teacher Lily informed me that so many people want to but there is no room in their houses or they can not simply because they do not have extra money to spend on the dogs. Teacher Lily also explained to me that there are no animal shelters or animal control in Costa Rica and they also do not get any animals fixed which could create an overpopulation of animals. Seeing all of the dogs on the streets definitely made me appreciate that the States have a place for animals to go instead of the animals always being on the streets.
I also loved that during this trip I went out of my comfort zone for many different reasons. First of all, it was my first plane trip so I was deathly afraid of the plane ride. It turns out the plane ride was super fun! I tend to not talk to strangers but during the trip I was constantly talking to people I just met. I also had a huge fear of zip-lines because of the one I went on at Seven Springs but I even conquered that fear. I definitely feel that I changed for the better on this trip becoming more outgoing and realizing that taking risks that are safe is half the fun of traveling.
Going to Costa Rica was something that I will never forget. I had wanted to go to another country, see their culture and meet new people all of which happened when we were there. I made long lasting friendships with amazing people in Costa Rica that I will be staying in contact with. Teaching in Costa Rica was the best teaching experience I have had during my whole college career. The students were so eager to learn and respected us when we spoke, something that does not always happen with high school students in the States. I was honored to work with such intelligent and amazing students in Costa Rica.
I made a promise to the students in Costa Rica that I would share their artwork and fight for the art programs in the schools here because I see how important they are and they allow for creating and so much more! I intend to keep this promise and find ways to give back to people in the States until I can one day go back to Costa Rica and give back to them! This experience has changed me so much and I cannot wait until I can go to Costa Rica again.
Scholastica Travel planned the travel arrangements and experiences for Seton Hill University. Teaching arrangements were made by Seton Hill. For more information about traveling to Costa Rica with your students, please submit an online request.