Costa Rica trip set for April break


Central American Real Estate

Wouldn’t you want to visit?

Costa Rica’s “safe and friendly community,” as described by Johnson State College Business professor Todd Comen, will be welcoming JSC students for the fifth time during April break of 2015.

For a $2,500 course fee, students will have airfare, food, lodging, activities and transportation within the country covered. Along with Outdoor Education professor Brad Moscowitz, Comen has organized the three-credit trip to the Osa Peninsula as an opportunity for students of all academic areas to learn about ecotourism and experience adventure travel.

The 12-14 students who join them on this trip will be able to partake in a variety of activities such as kayaking in mangroves, surfing, hiking in the tropics and snorkeling.

Students will also be involved in GIS (Geographical Information Systems) mapping, which Comen said will involve taking technology into the field and mapping out where different activities happen.

“We’re going to look at tourism impacts,” Comen said, “where trash might be in the area from the big tourist season, where foods are coming from and different farmers. We might go to different places that are producing food, map them digitally and in the end you have sort of a Google map.”

For this particular activity, the travellers will be working with a nonprofit organization.

“I like to make it [the trip] a balance of academic, fun, and active,” said Comen. “It’s a very active kind of trip. People have to be in shape and willing to stretch their limits. I want them to get to know different ecosystems, marine and tropical.”

Students will also be able to get the feel of the Costa Rican community by casually playing soccer with the local kids, cooking typical cuisine with the local people, and by staying in local lodging.

The group will meet four times before the trip to go over an introduction and expectations, with no post-trip expectations.

However, students will be expected to keep a handwritten journal to write about what they have learned and how it has affected them. “We’ve got to live everyday to its fullest and going to Costa Rica is totally about that,” Comen said.

Comen noted these trips have the ability to trigger a lot of personal reflection, and the journaling plays an important role in facilitating that.

“It’s 90°F and humid, so it wears you out,” he said, “[There are] personal challenges, people don’t speak your language, the food is different. It’s not easy.”

However, some students have found these kinds of trips transformational, despite of or because of the challenges they have faced. “They have found their path and found their passion through this experience,” said Comen. “It changes their lives. That’s the feedback we’ve gotten.”

JSC students interested in signing up to go to Costa Rica should see Comen in his office in Martinetti hall or email him at [email protected]