Honors Program to Costa Rica

Piedmont Tech Honors Program Broadens Horizons in Costa Rica

May 26, 2015

The students in the Honors Program at Piedmont Technical College are living La Pura Vida – the pure life.

Thirteen students and five faculty members traveled to Costa Rica during spring break to broaden their horizons, learn about other cultures and provide community service. The trip was one of the enrichment opportunities available for students in the program.

“This was an experience you don’t get often in a lifetime,” said Toby Boster, an associate in arts student from Newberry. “You get the educational experience and the cultural exposure.”

The students had the opportunity to experience every aspect of life in Costa Rica. During the week, students explored the capital, San Jose; they traveled to the mountains and participated in adventure tourism, including ziplining through the jungle and kayaking on a lake at the foot of an active volcano; they visited rural areas where they worked with a community to build a sidewalk and visited with children at a disadvantaged school; and spent two days on the Costa Rican beach.

“This trip gave these students an experience they will never forget,” said Jennifer Lopes, PTC Spanish instructor and advisor. “I think it’s changed their world forever.”

The instructors felt Costa Rica was an ideal destination for the students’ first international trip.

“Costa Rica was a logical choice,” said Lopes. “It offered diversity, it was relatively inexpensive and it was a safe destination.”

The students returned enthused by the adventure and excited about the impact they had made.

“It really made you think about where your stuff comes from and how everything is made and how to appreciate everything,” said Ariel King, an associate in arts student from Lincolnton, Ga. “We don’t appreciate stuff here like they do there. They don’t have a lot, but they love what they have.”

“I brought back more of a respect for the present time,” said Serena Bennett, an associate in science student from Greenwood. “Before I went, I was always focusing on tomorrow and what I needed to do. Now, I’ve been spending more time on today and I’m not worried as much as I used to be. It’s the pura vida.”

Lopes said she feels the trip accomplished the goal of the Honors Program – to prepare these students for any challenge they may face when they transfer to a four-year college or university.

“The faculty here at Piedmont Tech have asked these students to really think critically and go above and beyond what any other student has to do and these students have met that challenge,” she said. “Everything our students got from this experience has made them a global citizen with the ability to handle anything, and that is going to give them a cutting edge in the future.”

Photo Caption: Thirteen students and five faculty members traveled to Costa Rica during spring break to broaden their horizons, learn about other cultures and provide community service. The trip was one of the enrichment opportunities available for students in the program. Ariel King of Lincolnton, Ga., left, and Rossana Cubillan of Greenwood, center, help Costa Rican locals from the town Zapotal build a sidewalk as part of their international community service.