11 Students Spent 3 Weeks in Costa Rica for Sustainable Tourism Study Abroad

Collins Students in Costa Rica

For the first time, The Collins College sent students to Costa Rica to participate in a sustainable tourism study abroad program.

Five undergraduate and six graduate students spent three weeks at the Centro Agrónomico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñaza (CATIE), an international university that combines science, education, and innovation for sustainable tourism development. They stayed in a sustainability house in CATIE’s Botanical Gardens, which is home to over 4,000 plants and is located near the active Turriabla volcano.

The group, accompanied by Dean Lea Dopson and Director of Graduate Studies Neha Singh, immersed themselves into the culture of the land by taking part in a variety of activities and field trips including learning how to make chocolate with native cacao, learning how to hunt with bows and spears, and learning how to weave leaves into roofs for huts.

“Every day, every activity, every class was a lesson to be learned,” says Joanne Lam, one of the Collins College students on the trip. “Through our activities, we learned first-hand how the communities we visited created a world that made a positive impact on everything around them.”

The students took a variety of classes at CATIE, including a sustainability seminar series with a culminating group project. Some of their excursions included canoeing for an hour and hiking up to visit an indigenous community in the Yorkin rainforest, staying with the Mollejones rural community, and a two-night stay at a luxury 5-leaf resort in Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

"Experiencing sustainable tourism first-hand has been truly eye opening," says Dean Dopson. "Our students have a new appreciation for the sustainable growth of communities across the globe."

Lam hopes to apply what she learned in Costa Rica to her future endeavors as an advocate for a more sustainable future.

“Living in the United States, it’s easy not to think about where our consumption originates,” she says. “This trip taught us to step outside of our comfort zone, to think critically about our own lives and environment, and how we can make a positive impact for a global world today, tomorrow, and for future generations.”