High School Summer Service Trip | Costa Rica 2023

Written by Ian Cuevas

August 1, 2023
Chelaine Kokos

Chelaine Kokos

WSSD HS Co-Chair recounts the annual service trip that Juniors take – this past school year, to Costa Rica.

Service trips for high school students have become a milestone through the years at Waldorf School of San Diego. This April, the class of 2024 took our annual International Service trip to Costa Rica. in order to make this trip possible, they worked hard fundraising individually and through community events for their entire 11th grade year. This year was the first year since the Pandemic that we were able to be back with our beloved company Costa Rica Resources. Through the years, we have collaborated with our dear friends in Costa Rica to create programs that will truly change the lives of our students.

This year we spent 14 days in Costa Rica deepening our relationship and understanding of Costa Rican culture. The students had the opportunity to experience many sides of Costa Rica while in Sitio de Mata, Turrialba, Rio de Pacuare, Limon and in San Jose at the KATU Waldorf School.

A Glimpse Into Our Summer Service Trips for High School Students

On our summer service trips for high school students, our classes learn valuable lessons about indigenous communities and the power of giving back. This year, the students had the opportunity to learn and support indigenous cultures in Costa Rica deeper than in years past. Students spent time raising donations for multiple indigenous communities and other schools prior to leaving on their trip. The clothing donations were first sold in a student-led tienda in Sitio de Mata, where the students had their homestays. The families of the local community came out with enthusiasm to go shopping. This year we made the most money we ever have!  The money raised at the tienda was then paid forward to purchase supplies for mothers and children at the Turrialba Indigenous shelter.
The students through group consensus were able to purchase many items the mothers and children need, including school supplies, diapers, baby wipes, and feminine products. Thank you to all the families who supported the 11th grade with donations of children’s items and school supplies!

Community service trips for high school students provide our classes with an opportunity to volunteer and to learn. On our 2023 Costa Rica school trip. we visited The Center for Indigenous Families in Turrialba, part of an international Action Program in Costa Rica, which provides a safe and accommodating place for Cabécar families who travel for hours by foot for health services and medicine. The center’s services have expanded over the years – it was originally started exclusively to offer services and lodging for pregnant women in the days just before and after the birth of a child, or in the event of the hospitalization of a child. At the shelter, the students were taught about the Cabécar culture and the difficulties single mothers face while pregnant and during their child’s first year.

Later in the trip, while staying on the Rio de Pacuare at the Pacuare Outdoor Center, the students had the opportunity to hike through the jungle to the indigenous community of Tsiobatta (which means the high area of the Toucan in the Cabécar language). The students courageously hiked 3 hours uphill through high heat and humidity to the village. The families still live with no electricity or roads, and in thatch roof homes. The students worked with the tribe’s cultural teacher to learn about the culture and customs of Tsiobatta.

Our cultural teacher shared with us, building upon our lessons in Turrialba, about the cosmo vision of the Cabécar, traditional housing, medicinal herbs, their belief systems and structure of their spiritual life. The students again had the opportunity to support the community through donating school supplies they carried in their backpacks to the community.  It was impactful for the students to see how many of the younger kids have been exposed to modern life across the river.  This was our first time back to the village in seven years, and a lot had shifted. Through government support and a desire to save and support the Tsiobatta culture, they now had interpretive history signs and traditional housing set up for tourists.

The Benefits of Community Service Trips for High School Students

Experiences like our community service trips for high school students offer lessons and memories that will last forever. These trips provide a multitude of benefits to our students and the communities where they learn and volunteer. Our class had many more adventures, and they learned a lot about themselves and the Costa Rican culture. It was a trip that will stay with them for a lifetime. Pura Vida!

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