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GESI Costa Rica Overview

For the summer after my freshman year, I decided to study abroad through GESI, a program in which students can earn course credit while completing an internship with local community organizations. Before departing for our host countries, all 60+ GESI students completed a week-long orientation in Chicago, where we took classes in community development, international studies, and country-specific languages. Throughout this week, I met such a diverse group of students, bonded with my Costa Rica team, and learned important information about what to expect while abroad. In-country, I was placed at an agroecological farm called El Tablazo, which was started six years ago by a young couple who became our host parents over the next two months. The organization aims to develop farmland with as little negative environmental impact as possible and acts as an educational center for both the local community and international volunteers. In addition to working at the farm every day, we are required to complete weekly online assignments for course credit – these projects are designed to complement the type of work we engage in at our host organizations. So far, this experience has been one-of-a-kind, and I have grown exponentially in Spanish proficiency and my knowledge of organic agriculture. At the end of our program, we will be returning to Chicago for a three-day final summit to reflect on our work and share our individual experiences with the other GESI students, who traveled to countries all around the world. Through our shared stories, I hope to become part of a larger, diverse community of GESI and study abroad students.

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