Summer ’13 High School Spanish Immersion
Summer ’13 High School Spanish Immersion in Costa Rica:
Our High School Immersion Students had a life-changing summer in Costa Rica! Before departing the USA, we talked extensively about the challenges, benefits and beauties of this unique Spanish Immersion program that combines living with host families, intensive Spanish classes, meaningful volunteer work and of course – adventure!
Immersion is hard work; it develops character, opens students eyes, and provides a ripe opportunity for personal growth. Students were stretched beyond their comfort zones at times; which resulted in deeper cultural insights, wider language acquisition, physical challenges and mental fatigue. But it’s not all work, they also had the chance to rappel off waterfalls, chill at the beach, bungee jump, see the crater of a volcano, zipline through the rainforest, and more!
Some highlights from this past summer include:
- Small, intensive, and interactive Spanish classes at the language school
- Planning, preparing and successfully executing a two day summer camp at an orphanage of 70 kids with other Costa Rican high school students. Activities included a great mix of science and math enrichment, physical education games, arts and crafts and board games.
- Working at a local elementary school, integrating their character education topic of the month of “friendship” into a three day workshop with 4 to 11 years old students. We adapted the book The Rainbow Fish or El pez arcoiris into a play and presented it to the community. The kids did a fantastic job!
- Learning how to cook empanadas de maduro y frijoles negros and learning how to dance salsa and meringue
- Seeing a plethora of wildlife in the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and in Volcán Arenal
- Zip-lining, waterfall hikes, waterfall rappels and yes even bungee jumping!
- Living, learning and eating lots of chocolate at la Iguana Chocolate Farm where we worked on the farm for 4 days and learned the process of making chocolate “bean to bar.”
For many of our participants, this immersion experience is an impacting program that opens their eyes and hearts to future opportunities. Over the years we have received reports from students how their Costa Rica Spanish Immersion provided a fantastic foundation and inspired them to study abroad in other countries. Many have continued in their Spanish language acquisition and cultural knowledge by going abroad again in other Spanish speaking countries such as Spain, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua and others.
Some thoughts from our summer ’13 Spanish immersion students…
“I will never forget my experiences in Costa Rica. This immersion program greatly increased my global awareness and Spanish skills! The Common Ground staff was always there to support me, even if I got frustrated trying to speak Spanish. I learned so much being in Costa Rica and I am definitely returning as soon as possible! PURA VIDA !!!” -Cara DeLuca summer 13
“Some of my highlights were the extreme adventures like getting the chance to go bungee jumping because no other time in my life have I had the opportunity. However some of my best experiences were when I was with my host family. I can still remember the first day I met them and how hard it was trying to speak to them with what very limited Spanish I had and how many charades I had to perform. But over time I became more and more fluent in Spanish and more close to my family over the two weeks. I now can say that I have a second family in my life because of this trip and that is amazing. My other experiences that stuck out to me were the Spanish classes because they were actually fun, instead of boring. I enjoyed going to class because we learned, had fun, and got closer as a group. I think that this trip not only helped my Spanish grow but helped me grow as person. I loved the culture, the people, and the food I know now that this where I want go for the rest of my life.” Tyler Newman summer 13
“My favorite part was meeting all of the new people and being able to have a better understanding of personal relationships within my family and Common Ground group. It was amazing participating in all of the activities and the memories will stick with me forever.” Alison Monahan summer 13