Costa Rica is a strong outlier for Central America. Contrasting to its neighboring countries, Costa Ricans pride themselves on 100 years of democratic tradition and lack of army. More than half of the population lives in the capital city of San Jose, while the rest of the country can be considered semi-rural. Though a smaller sized country, Costa Rica accounts for about 4% of the world’s biodiversity, and 27% of the land is protected. The landscape includes beaches, volcanoes, rainforest, and many different species of animal life.
Institute for Central American Development Studies
While Costa Rica is unique in its non-violent history, there is still much work to be done around environmental conservation and human rights. Students will work through the Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS), a center for study, research, and analysis of Central American social and environmental issues. The ICADS approach to development is focused on education of the region combined with hands on experience. Within the historical political, and cultural context of the region, students will do internships in Costa Rican organizations working towards social justice issues or sustainability.
Before starting internships, students will arrive and train at the ICADS office in San Jose. It’s a large and modern city that is easily accessible to the rest of the country through buses. After the initial training and Spanish classes, students might work in a different province in Costa Rica, within five hours of San Jose. The excursions in Costa Rica focus largely on nature and wildlife conservation.
The Community Experience.
Costa Ricans, affectionately referred to (by themselves and other countries) as “Ticos,” have a reputation for being extremely patient and conflict adverse. Ticos are often proud of their peace loving country, and take pride in Costa Rica as a popular ecotourism destination. Of the ICADS host families, many of them have been hosting students for several years. Families will provide two daily meals, often accompanied with locally produced coffee, bananas, plantains, and tortillas.
ICADS places a huge emphasis on Spanish learning, and provides intensive classes for students. Restricted use of wifi is also to be expected, as ICADS encourages students to be as immersed and present as possible throughout their work and home experience.