Where in the World is VCU? In Costa Rica as a part of Alternative Spring Break

Virginia Commonwealth University’s efforts to “Make it Real” encourage learning during all parts of life, both in and out of the classroom, and VCU students, faculty and staff are doing just that. The “Where in the World is VCU?” blog series follows members of the VCU community across the world highlighting their interesting adventures and experiences to show just how dynamic VCU Rams really are!

 

Students posed together for a photo

Can you start by telling me your name, year and major?

My name is Wyatt Booth and I am a rising senior studying as an English major with a minor in Creative Writing.

Where in the world are you this summer?Students gathered together in front of a park

This summer, I traveled to Costa Rica as part of Alternative Spring Break’s first-ever summer trip. Our service allowed us the opportunity to live within a convent of local nuns at Casa de la Espiritualidad la Purísma, work alongside researchers of the LAST (Latin American Sea Turtles) Association in the Osa Peninsula of Doña Elena and help to beautify the central park of local rural towns within the Alajuela Province.

How did you find yourself in this opportunity? What was it like?

Having been an active participant and site leader of VCU’s Alternative Spring Break program the past two years, I have had wonderful opportunities to pursue volunteerism abroad–Costa Rica was just one of my many experiences!
Students gathered at a Costa Rican beach

What has your experience been like? What was your favorite part? What was your biggest challenge?

The experience of traveling abroad to aid with conservation and preservation of Costa Rica’s wildlife environment was absolutely incredible, but the nature of the trip definitely pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone. My biggest challenge was setting myself at ease and trying food and activities that I normally would not have even considered. The level of openness shared amongst my fellow participants definitely helped with having an open-mind and ultimately feeling adventurous albeit my initial concerns.

Students gathered in a forest

What did you gain from this experience? Do you feel like you grew personally/professionally?

While the trip regrettably only lasted a week, it was the most life-changing experience of my college career thus far. The focus on reflections and mindfulness ensured that each participant was aware of personal growth through self-awareness, while the team-oriented projects helped to develop professional strengths both independently and with others

What advice would you give anyone looking for similar opportunities to study abroad?

Those interested in similar opportunities can always apply to Alternative Spring Break for our week-long spring trips, which offer a gamut of volunteer experiences regarding a multitude of different experiences. For students concerned about the financial implications, we also offer volunteer scholarships and hope to provide shorter weekend trips in the future as well!

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