Archive for February, 2008

Dinner with Jairo Hernandez-Milian on February 25

February 28, 2008

This past Monday the Latin American Politics class enjoyed the company of our professor, Jairo Hernandez-Milian, over dinner. Before this gathering our group of six knew very little about him other than the fact that he worked for former Costa Rican President Jose Figueres. We discovered that his dad played professional soccer and that if he could have dinner with anyone in the world his future wife takes the prize. Some students took the opportunity to discuss the ongoing presidential election in the United States – our professor proved that he knows a lot about anything dealing with politics. The following class proved more enjoyable after “breaking the ice.”
Posted by Jeremy Teetor


Puerto Viejo and Irazu

February 25, 2008
February 25, 2008

Greetings from the land of biodiversity! Our time in Costa Rica has been packed full of memorable adventures. Last weekend six of us traveled to Puerto Viejo on the Pacific coast. We quite possibly may have come across the hostel mas tuanis del mundo (the coolest in the world). Located right on the beach, Rocking J’s is a hammock hostel which reminded us of summer camp – except for college-aged kids. For a mere $5, we were given a hammock, a cubby for our belongings, and an environment fit for artistic expression. You can leave a piece of yourself by painting, creating permanent mosaics on the walls/floors, or by giving them a personal item to be incorporated into pieces of furniture. There we met backpackers and travelers from all parts of the globe including Sweden, Germany, Canada, and the U.S.

This past Saturday our whole group traveled to the Volcano Irazu, at 3,440 meters. While some took amazing pictures of the beautiful volcano, others “erosion surfed” down parts of it. Afterwards, we traveled to Orosi where the oldest Church in Costa Rica is located. When we arrived we were able to observe an actual Catholic wedding.  We also went to the Catholic Church located in Cartago where a mass was taking place. We deduced that Saturday masses are very important here since both churches were completely packed. People come from all parts of the country to drink from the holy water that flows from a special stone found at the Cartago Church. I even saw a woman put her baby into the water! I drank some of it and I did indeed feel holier.

¡Hasta luego amigos!

Posted by Kathryn Peraza


Museo del Oro, San Jose

February 20, 2008
Elon students visit the Gold Museum in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica on February 14, 2008. They learned about the pre-Columbian traditional cultures in Costa Rica and saw many gold artifacts.

White Water Rafting

February 18, 2008

Four of us went rafting this weekend on the Pacuare River. El Rio Pacuare is one of the top five rafting rivers in the world for both its scenery and rapids. We went rafting with the company Rios Tropicales.


In summary, the rapids were exhilarating. The water was clear and cool. The people in our raft were entertaining and personable. The trip down the river was filled with unfathomable environmental beauty.

The memories we have of our experiences will be everlasting!

Posted by Kara Cowdrick


Performance by Manuel Monestel

February 17, 2008

Photographed by Jessica Piazza on February 11.

Afro-Caribbean music in Costa Rica

February 17, 2008

After a relaxing weekend at the beach everyone has settled back into our host families’ homes and into the classroom. Aside from the two student teachers, we are all taking Spanish four days a week in addition to a different mixture of: Education, General Studies Seminar, Environmental Science, and Latin American Politics. On Monday Manuel Monestel came to visit us at Mesoamerica. He gave an interactive lecture about Afro-Caribbean music.The second half of the class we played maracas and claves while we sang. Monestel also played a few songs for us.
We have a variety of plans for the upcoming weekend. Some of us will make the four and a half hour journey to Puerto Viejo, a beach town on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. We will be rocking out in a hammock hostel and renting bikes to roll over to Cahuita National Park. Others have decided to stay in San Jose for part of the weekend and take a day trip to go white water rafting. Whether we are watching the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea or enjoying the rapids of the Picuare River, we will all be embracing all that is: Pura Vida. Posted by Jessica Piazzaseminar on music











Teaching Down South . . . Way Down South . . . In Central America,

February 12, 2008
Hola from Costa Rica! So far, the morning routine has been the same; hop out of bed, put on a shirt and tie, and take a bus ride that sees a few thousand feet of elevation gain. By mid morning, the clouds have been burned away by a cheerful sun and I can see the fellow mountains that hem in the city of San Jose. What a country! What terrain! What a view!


However, I’m standing at the front of the classroom, trying to inspire ten or so students to stare, not out the windows, but at their history lesson. After years of sitting (and sometimes staring out the window), I’m now taking my turn at the overhead projector.


My name is Matt Steible and I am an Elon student-teacher in another country. On the outskirts of San Jose there is a small American private school. Hosting grades K-12, the Marian Baker School is a gem upon a hill. There are fewer than 200 hundred students in the whole school. This makes for some very small class rosters, every teacher’s dream, sometimes less than ten students per class. Here is the school’s website for more information.

My cooperating teacher, Ms. Smith, and I are working with six different Social Studies classes that are listed below:


1. 8th Grade US History

2. 9th Grade World Cultures, College Placement

3. 9th Grade World Cultures, Honors

4. 11th Grade US History, College Placement

5. 11th Grade US History, Honors

6. Hacia Democracy (Central American Model UN program hosted by Harvard University)


I am excited about each class, we enjoy freedom of curriculum here at Marian Baker. This allows for some very neat possibilities for research projects, focused units, and interdisciplinary coordination with the other secondary teachers. It also allows, as you can imagine, for a lot of paperwork.


In almost two weeks, I’ve settled into my new home with my new family, begun to grasp the Costa Rican education system, Marian Baker’s SACC’s accredited system, and visited a volcano, multiple waterfalls, and the Pacific Ocean.


When a person comes home to a house in which his native language isn’t spoken nor understood, the Boston Tea Party takes on a whole new measure of familiarity. It’s been a learning process borne out of necessity to rediscover and expand my high school Spanish, a process that I have thoroughly enjoyed and which my host family has also enjoyed through some comical linguistic errors. Every day always features something new, but because I teach Social Studies, each day also features something old. I enjoy what I do here, the thrill of teaching and learning is the same in any country.


I’ll end this blog post by wishing the best of luck to all my fellow Elon student teachers. I know I am missing the camaraderie of all the great friends and faculty in the Education department. But, I am right there with you throughout this whole semester, writing lesson plans and grading papers.


Just one time zone behind. Long Live Elon.


Mr. Steible



Manuel Antonio National Park

February 12, 2008
erica gierlach

This past weekend, our group traveled to Manuel Antonio, a city along the Pacific Ocean. Everyone was looking forward to this excursion, which came right after our first week of classes.

We headed out Friday morning and arrived in the early afternoon. Along the way, we stopped at the bridge over Rio Tárcoles because the largest population of crocodiles in Costa Rica inhabits that area. It was very interesting to see them. One group member bought some sausage to throw to the crocodiles. Since crocodiles can’t see, it was neat to see all the crocodiles respond at once when the sausage hit the water.

At Manuel Antonio, we enjoyed the beach very much. Many of us ran towards the beach as soon as we could after getting off of the bus. Some people were able to experience the Pacific Ocean for the very first time. On Saturday, most of the group went to Manuel Antonio National park. Some took a guided tour, while others chose to explore the park on their own so that they could enjoy more time at the beach. Either way, many different animals and plants were seen. There were too many to name them all, but some of the inhabitants that we saw were white-faced monkeys, two-toed sloths, lesser nighthawk, a deer, citronella plants, and black pepper plants. After a long day on the beach, many group members held a bonfire on the beach on Saturday night. The view of the fire with the stars up above was incredible and relaxing. Sunday morning was also spent at the beach, trying to soak up just a little bit more sun before heading home.

Overall the weekend was excellent. It was very relaxing and was much needed after the first week of classes.

Posted by Erica Gierlach

First impressions

February 6, 2008

Well, it’ll be a week tomorrow since we’ve all arrived in Costa Rica. I can’t speak for everyone, but judging by the smiles on everyone’s face, I think we’re all having a great time so far. Everything is still so new and exciting, and everyday we see something new. This past weekend, we went to Volcan Poas and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. It was so beautiful, minus the fact the volcano sulfur smelled like rotten eggs. At La Paz, there was a little “zoo-type” place we walked through before actually getting to the three waterfalls. We saw snakes, all types of crazy-lookin’ frogs, butterflies, and hummingbirds. I think those were the coolest, because you literally stand in the middle of their garden and they just surround you, buzz by and skim your head. The waterfalls were so beautiful; it’s very close to paradise, if not exactly. This weekend we’re going to Manuel Antonio, a beach on the Pacific Ocean. Some of us are planning on taking surf lessons, or snorkeling. But I think we’re all excited just to have the weekend to see more of this amazing country.

Well, I guess more will come later, but for right now, we’re all just trying not to laugh at ourselves too hard when we try to speak Spanish.

Pura Vida!

Posted by Amy Papantonio

Birthday Celebration

February 1, 2008

Parker Cramer celebrated his 20th birthday with the study abroad group at Mesoamerica on February 1, 2008–the first full day in Costa Rica.