January 26, 2012
After almost 2 years of planning, 6 students from Delaware County Christian School (DC), along with their teacher Señorita Ng and a chaperone, arrived here in Vara Blanca, Costa Rica at almost midnight on Tuesday, January 3rd for 9 days of Spanish Immersion through a partnership with ADE and some of our high school students.
Five of our students chose to be guides for the trip and started preparing their lessons and presentations over a month ahead of time. The very first day when the DC students and the ADE students were all eating their first meal together, there was a clear uneasiness and separation between the two groups. No one was quite sure of what to do. By the last meal you never would have guessed at the awkwardness of that first breakfast.
The DC students had many "classes" (taught by the ADE students) on local Spanish phrases. Many of the new phrases they used throughout the week like: ¡Guácala! and ¡Tome chichi! (You know, the important stuff). The students also learned how to cook some typical Costa Rican food, how to do some typical Costa Rican dances, and how to milk the cows they walked past every day. It was also a packed week with trips to the market, the city, the movies (seeing "El Gato con Botas"), the Poas Volcano and the Arenal Volcano, the waterfall gardens, and much more. All along, the ADE students were continually helping the DC students with Spanish and forcing them to practice. Even in car trips, they played some games in Spanish to take advantage of all the time the group had here.
For both groups I think it was an unbelievable success and an amazing partnership of learning. The DC students became so much more comfortable speaking Spanish. They learned a lot about the local Costa Rican culture, in ways they can't learn from their Spanish textbook and they won't ever forget. They also got to see much of Costa Rica and enjoy things like rope swings, zip lines, and hot springs. The ADE students also learned so much. They started to learn how to teach, how to be professional, and how to lead a group. They learned how to relate with people from a different culture and as one of the student guides said: how friendships can develop so fast and she can have many friends from all over the world. They were empowered to value and offer the many skills they have like Spanish, the local culture, and ecology around them. The ADE student guides are developing as leaders for their school and their community.
As teachers (both from DC and here in Costa Rica), I think we valued most the partnership that was created as students grew beyond just academics, but as people and citizens of the world. It really was an exchange instead of so many of the service or educational trips that normally take place on service or educational trips.
We're looking forward to the relationships that persist and the continued partnership between DC and ADE.
Written by: Lindsey Miller