High school students on surf and Spanish immersion in Costa Rica!
What an amazing first weekend on immersion! Last Thursday was arrival day for the high school Spanish immersion participants and everyone arrived safe and sound to Costa Rica. All the participants were extremely patient and handled themselves with such maturity with the long travel day and meeting a whole new group of people! At the hotel the next morning, we had a very typical Costa Rican breakfast of Gallo Pinto- a rice and beans dish- which many of the students enthusiastically tried and enjoyed!
After a few rompehielos (icebreakers), we were finally on our way to the first excursion of the program: Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio! This is a beautiful area in the southwestern part of Costa Rica with incredible beaches, amazing wildlife, and many friendly ticos! Once we settled into the hotel, it was off to the beach. We ended our night with a group dinner, which was the first opportunity to see how hard the participants are trying to use their Español! Even if they had to use a little Spanglish here and there, all were able to order their first meals in Costa Rica en Español! They have also been very curious and eager to learn as much as they can about the culture. It was evident very early on that we had a special group of 23 high school immersion participants with us this summer.
The next morning was our chance to visit the national park. We had two guides taking us through the park and our initial idea was to have one group totally guided in Spanish and another in English/Spanglish. But we were pleasantly surprised when everyone chose to challenge themselves and have their tour in Spanish. And the tour was increíble! Our guides did an excellent job of ensuring all the students understood them in Spanish- speaking at the right pace and also translating to English when necessary. We saw muchos animales in the park: hummingbirds, frogs, bats, monkeys, crabs, and sloths!
The walk through the park ends at the beach so we had another afternoon full of swimming (this group could body surf for hours, I swear!), games, and hanging out with new friends. We ended our second night with another group dinner where many participants tried some authentic Costa Rican dishes and some delicious tres leches cake for dessert!Sunday had arrived and it was our final day in Manuel Antonio. Eleven participants got up a bit earlier than the rest to learn how to surf! This was a very special and exciting activity for this group who all rocked it on those surfboards! Each one of them rode multiple waves with only a little help from the instructors. It was also the most beautiful morning to be at the beach so those that didn’t surf had fun playing fútbol, boogie boarding, and just relaxing en el sol ☀.
Unfortunately after the beach, it was time to leave. On the way to our home base, Santo Domingo de Heredia, we were able to stop at a lookout point to take some pictures of the incredible ocean views. Also, one of the most exciting, but nerve-wracking parts of this immersion experience was just a couple hours away- meeting the host families! We discussed host family expectations and any concerns or questions the participants had going into meeting their familias hospederas. There was a mix of emotions on the bus- from nervous and anxious to excited and ready to meet their families! We arrived at the language school Lapa Verde (this is where the participants have their Spanish classes and do some community service) where the families were eagerly awaiting our arrival! Check out some pictures below:
The first weekend in Manuel Antonio was a great way to start this Spanish immersion program full of new experiences, new friends, a new language, and a new culture. What a pleasure to meet such an amazing group of high schoolers who are motivated, funny, engaged, intelligent, creative, and talented. And there are many more adventures to come!