Dispatches from the 7th Grade Field Trip to Costa Rica
This, year the 7th Grade Spanish Language Acquisition class headed to a new destination for their field trip abroad: Costa Rica! In the past, the 7th Grade Spanish Language Acquisition class has visited Puerto Rico, and this year’s students were thrilled to make ISB history as they headed to Monteverde, Costa Rica! The students were chaperoned by Assistant Head of School Joe Santos and Middle School Teachers Sara Fernandez Valladarez and Hined Haida. These are their stories!
We have had a fabulous first day. We woke up to very unexpected blue skies and made the most of the wonderful weather. We started the morning by going to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Nature Reserve, where we spent close to three hours hiking through this amazing protected area. The plant life was exuberant and our guides proved to be very knowledgeable. We saw the very rare resplendent quetzal, coatis, and abundant invertebrate life. The kids really enjoyed being in a wild and untouched tropical space, something which many had never experienced before.
During the last part of the trip, we visited the best cheese and ice cream factory in Costa Rica (so they say!), where the students all had an ice cream or a gigantic milkshake.
We then dropped off the students with their host families, and we were able to chat and get to know them. The students all reported having enjoyed their time with the host families, playing with younger siblings, taking walks with them in the area, tasting the traditional food, and with one family, even helping milk their cow!
Today we started the day by catching the school bus that took us to the Cloud Forest School / Centro de Educación Creativa. Once there, we joined the lower school for their circle time, a routine to start the week. During this time, announcements were made, students shared their news with everyone, and we were welcomed to the community.
After this, we had an extensive tour of the school, including a special performance from a 3rd grade class. Our guides were very informative and told us about the history of the Cloud Forest School. The school was created by a group of parents who wanted their children to be brought up in a bilingual environment (sounds familiar!). The school also has an environmental and sustainability mission, with the students' taking part in the rehabilitation of the forest. The students also learn to farm and take care of their own vegetable patches. The highlight of the tour was a walk through the reserve, where we first heard and then saw a troupe of howler monkeys. Other large animals we saw today included turkey vultures, emerald toucans, and wild turkeys found high up in the trees.
During their lunch break, our students joined the middle and high school students for recess and played soccer and basketball with their new friends. In the early afternoon, as rain threatened, we moved into a classroom where Sara and Hined introduced the week's Spanish Language Acquisition project: creating a newspaper of our visit. As the school day neared its end, we broke again for recess. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we lost track of time, and a staff member had to come to fetch us so we would not miss our bus!
We said goodbye to our students, all of whom had beaming faces as they boarded the buses with their host siblings.
How does spending two and a half hours up in the tropical forest canopy, zipping from tree to tree sound? Fantastic, right? Well, that's just what we did this morning!
Every single student completed the entire course of 13 zip lines, with the longest being 1 kilometer long! It was an amazing experience for all. The students also had the opportunity of completing the "Tarzan" swing, which was quite a challenge.
Later, back at school, we continued with our newspaper project. Our students showed high degree of creativity, and we are looking forward to seeing the finished product.
We ended the afternoon with an introduction to our community service project. Over the next few days, we will be preparing to complete a reforestation project. Each student will have the opportunity to plant a tree in an area designated for ISB. We will attach tags with our names to the trees and in future years, as other year groups visit, we will be able to monitor the growth of our little ISB forest in Costa Rica. The students are very excited about the prospect of leaving their mark here!
We woke up to sun today, and so the first thing we did with the kids was… put on the sunscreen!
Today was the much anticipated trip to the coffee and chocolate hacienda. The tour did not disappoint! Our guide, very aware that our students speak and understand Spanish, involved them in many of the explanations and discussions of how coffee and chocolate are produced. Clearly, the favorite part of the tour was when we helped make chocolate - because straight afterward, we got to eat it!
When we returned to the school, we gave the students an extra long break, as they were thoroughly enjoying playing soccer and basketball with students from the school (the PE teacher was kind enough to include us in the PE class).
Then came the second highlight of the day, joining the 4th grade for a music class. Our students joined the 4th graders in song with much gusto. They also treated us all to two songs which they had practiced on the bus. The class ended with everyone joining in dancing to Justin Bieber (a dubious choice, but then again, the teachers were not allowed to choose!).
Everyone is back with their host families now enjoying their second to last night.
Today we completed the fifth chapter of our Monteverde adventure. The day began with ominous dark clouds on the horizon, but that did not deter our cheerful group from looking forward to our morning activity: the hanging bridges. We started off on the three kilometer hike making sure everyone had their waterproof jackets with them! During the zip line activity, we had travelled in and above the canopy, but our speed did not allow us to observe much. Today’s walk allowed us to walk quietly through the same canopy and observe a multitude of plants and animals. A family of pizotes, raccoons, and snakes were among the larger animals we saw, as well as a cornucopia of small birds.
After the two hour walk (we walked slowly to be able to observe the wildlife), we returned to school, had lunch, and continued to work on our community service project. The students were divided into two groups, one group worked with local students helping them fill bags with dirt to be used for planting seeds, while the other group created the signs for our tree planting area.
We ended the day by working on the second part of our newspaper: the interviews. The students were asked to think of questions in Spanish that they could ask to their host families in order to get to know them a little better. The students will be interviewing them this evening, and tomorrow they will be presenting their answers in class (yes, they have homework to do this evening!).
Today, we had a wonderful last day in Monteverde. We started the day working on the ISB Cloud Forest project, and the students finally planted their trees! Everyone worked really hard preparing the land for the planting, cleaning and digging in the dirt. The kids were very enthusiastic about leaving a mark and a legacy in Costa Rica. They all planted their trees as they thought of someone special to them and sent positive thoughts in order for the tree to grow to be healthy.
Later, we had a farewell party with the host families. The families treated us with delicious local desserts and homemade tea. The students could share a relaxing time with their families in the school, and they thanked them by performing songs they learned in their Performing Arts class. Everyone had a wonderful time, but we are all a bit sad to leave this amazing place tomorrow!
Our day isn’t finished just yet! Last but not least, we will be enjoying a night tour around the forest so we can meet all of the nocturnal animals and species that are hiding at night. We can’t wait!