Students with baskets prepare to pick coffee beans

Students learn about coffee production and its relationship to the local, national and global economy at La Bella Tica Coffee Farm in Monteverde, Costa Rica (photo courtesy of Jason Larker).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Nineteen graduate students from the College of Education’s Department of Counselor Education participated in a faculty-led trip to Costa Rica January 3- 20, led by Professor Jason Laker and Assistant Professor Dolores Mena.

“This program prepared counselors to advance social justice principles and become effective at cross-cultural issues,” Laker said.

Students received credit for two counseling classes that focused on service learning and supervised experience. Master’s counseling education student Rebecca Frank appreciated the exposure to a different point of view.

“You can go across the world and there are the same problems,” Frank said. “To be more a competent global citizen, you have to be aware of things that are happening globally.”

According to Mena, students were required to journal before the trip and answer prompting questions when they got back. The students also presented group projects the first week in Costa Rica that “brought together concepts and theories for cultural teaching.”

In addition to applying critical thinking and educational theory,  students experienced first-hand barriers to learning. They rolled up their sleeves to clear trails, prune education gardens, and build safe sidewalks for K-12 school children.

Innovative Thinking

“We learned how to become innovative in maximizing people’s strength in working with clients and embrace new experiences with different lenses,” said student Daisy Villicana.

SJSU students partnered with The University for Peace and the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation on social service projects while in Costa Rica.

In addition to service learning, students experienced Costa Rica’s eco-tourism and triple-bottom line businesses through cultural activities including visits to the Poas Volcano National Park, Costa Rican Entomological Supply (a butterfly farm), and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Students also had the opportunity to explore on their own and participate in canopying, water rapelling, ziplining, and horseback riding.

Click here to see photos from their trip.

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