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International Social Services: A Costa Rican Perspective : Reviews (La Fortuna)

The following program review responses have been selected for publication by Study Abroad & Global Engagement
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Mallory Simmens, Summer 2012 Participant
My favorite part was being able to experience things that your average tourist does not - like lunch with a farming community or conversations with indigenous peoples.


Sherry Lynn Warren, Summer 2012 Participant
We visited such a variety of agencies - it was a remarkable experience. Meeting students of social work and getting to know them was also invaluable!


Summer 2015 Participant
Educationally, I really loved being on campus surrounded by students in the School of Social Welfare at UCR. Developing relationships with some of those students, in spite of the language barrier was such a challenging yet rewarding experience.

Recreationally, hiking the waterfall in the pouring rain was incredible. The best experience I have had in my entire life. It was pouring down rain for the entire hike, which made the forest seem so magical. When we reached the bottom of the waterfall, it's presence was so powerful that it brought me to tears. It was the most beautiful experience I've had so far.


Aaron A. Conrad, Summer 2016 Participant
My favorite part of this program was getting to interact with the social work students and professors with the University of Costa Rica. Learning about their emphasis advocacy, the focus on human rights above all else and the promotion of a culture of peace was very eye opening when compared to what is going on with social work in the United States. It was very informative to learn about that different perspective and then to reflect on how if can be applied to my country. It certainly changed the way I view social work and myself as a social worker. This program had the perfect mix of work and leisure time and it was great that we got to learn about the country as a whole, see many of its places and communities, and experience the culture in a holistic fashion.


Summer 2016 Participant
My favorite part of the program was the "State of the Nation" lecture we attended. It was extremely informative and gave a snap shot of where Costa Rica has been, where they are now and their goals for the future. The lecture covered everything from the economy and healthcare to the green movement in Costa Rica.


Nikolaus Michael Schuetz, Summer 2016 Participant
The culture in Costa Rica is so warm, vibrant, and welcoming! The people are incredibly friendly, and the food of course is delicious! This study abroad program was the perfect balance between learning and discovering the natural beauty that Costa Rica has to offer.


Summer 2018 Participant
My favorite part of this program was visiting the different social work sites and getting a glimpse of how social work issues are addressed and treated in a different country.


K'Brece Ashley Dean, Summer 2019 Participant
My favorite part of the program was the different lectures I attend to learn about Costa Rica's social services. I also enjoyed visiting the women's prison and learning the structure of the different programs offered to the women.


Amy Catherine Gray, Summer 2012 Participant
The combination of learning and downtime activities with fellow KU students and students from the University of Costa Rica enriched my experience.


LaShea Young, Summer 2015 Participant
I found visiting the indigenous community most rewarding. The community I visited is struggling to keep its culture in tack. Many of the children go off to college and never come back to the community to educate. The community showed me how they survive by living off their land. A resident of the community gave me a tour of their garden while on the tour different plants were shown to me and the purpose of the plant was described in detail. The community has also established a way to provide more income for its residents. Individual members in the community made difference art pieces to sell. What I enjoyed about the art is that every art piece has a meaning and a story.


Aaron A. Conrad, Summer 2016 Participant
The elements of the program that were most rewarding were when we interacted with the social work students from the University of Costa, when we were able to visit the practicum sites at the local public schools, and the other practicum sites. It really made a huge impact to be able to see how they practiced social work in real life, in a real setting. The social workers in Costa Rica face many of the same issues that social workers in the United States face, like lack of funding for services, overwhelming caseloads, and political decisions that impact the populations we serve. Seeing how the social workers and social work students addressed those issues, with an emphases on community organization and advocacy, made me realize I still have a lot to learn about what it is to be a social worker.


Summer 2016 Participant
It was all incredibly rewarding. I love the connections I made while on this trip and the glimpse into another culture.


Summer 2016 Participant
Interacting with students from the University of Costa Rica was very rewarding. It was great to hear about their passion and stories that lead them to pursue a career in social work.


Nikolaus Michael Schuetz, Summer 2016 Participant
The site visits were very interesting and really showed us parts of Costa Rican life that you might not normally see as a tourist or an outsider. The lectures were also very informative and well constructed.


Jorden Nicole Matney-McCorkle, Summer 2018 Participant
I found it most rewarding to interact with the citizens of Costa Rica as much as possible. Interacting with those who were in the psychiatric hospital or in the prison allowed me to get to know these people and to learn their point of view on the social welfare system. Their personal stories that they wanted to tell us were informative and brought a personal point of view on the programs that we were learning about.


Allie Elizabeth Grove, Summer 2019 Participant
The most rewarding elements were: the ability to access directors of Costa Rican Social Welfare agencies and the open discussions we had, and of course, chilling on the beach.


Amy Catherine Gray, Summer 2012 Participant
It is very warm in Costa Rica, dress accordingly.


Summer 2012 Participant
A new perspective on social work. Costa Rica has a more macro community approach to social work. They focus on how the community can change to integrate an individual. Rather than trying to change an individual.


Summer 2016 Participant
Be prepared for lots of learning in a short amount of time. It can be exhausting, but do as much as you possibly can! It will be worth it in the end!


Summer 2016 Participant
The U.S. carries an enormous amount of weight in the world. As a nation we need to be aware that our policies and decisions not only affect us, but other nations as well. The world truly is flat and we are intertwined.
As Americans we have tight schedules which dictate our lives, this is not the case in other nations. In Costa Rica you have to be flexible and patient. Things change often and at the last minute.


Nikolaus Michael Schuetz, Summer 2016 Participant
This program is a great introduction to a culture that is more collectivistic than the United States. The trip illuminates the important parts of how interconnected humans are with their social contexts as well as the natural environment around them.


Heather Giselle Scott, Summer 2016 Participant
Knowing Spanish is a huge advantage and allows you to interact with people on a unique level.


Summer 2016 Participant
Just go with the flow. People in other cultures are not as obsessed with following a schedule and being exactly on time (a.k.a early) to everything. Just going with the flow of the country really releases some anxiety.


Summer 2016 Participant
Be prepared to veer off from the itinerary/schedule. Plans change last minute, go with the flow.


Katherine M Romero, Summer 2018 Participant
I learned that it is important to share this experience with other students in your program and to challenge your way of thinking to get the full study abroad experience. The most helpful was reflecting back with my colleagues and to challenge myself by always thinking critically.