The group has just completed it’s second module at Universidad EARTH in Limon, Costa Rica. The experience was quite different from life in Santo Domingo. During each week at the university, we took a different course related to the concept of sustainable development. The first week was entrepreneurship, the second sustainable agriculture, the third waste management, and the fourth community development. I have been quite busy! Throughout the weeks our group was able to discuss and come back to the theme of what it means to be sustainable. Depending on everyone’s background, we have interpreted sustainability differently. For some it brought to mind environmental sustainability, while for others it brought to mind social sustainability, or social justice. Overall, my experience at EARTH taught me that it is important to cultivate both a sustainable physical environment and a social one.
Taking classes at EARTH was a return to typical college life. We left our host families to move into the campus dorms for the month since EARTH is far away from San Jose and Heredia. We had to do our own laundry and eat cafeteria food again. However, because the university aims to create future leaders in sustainability and agriculture, it does differ in some aspects from the typical U.S. university. For one, there are not hot showers, which was quite an adjustment for me. Students ride their bikes all around campus and work on the university’s farms on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We were able to work on the organic banana plantation, on the integrated organic farm (I hauled compost), and in the recycling center. I have never eaten so much fresh fruit in my life!
Finally, one of the best parts of our experience at EARTH happened in the first week. Every spring, the university hosts a campus wide competition called the EARTH games. Students split into teams based on their dorms and compete in various events. There are typical sports competitions like soccer, basketball, and volleyball, but there are also special EARTH sports, like mud volleyball and some game that involves walking across a log while getting beaten by pillows. The EARTH games were a great way to make friends during the first week because we were aggressively recruited by the students. They all have a lot of school spirit!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello! My name is Sydney Perlotto, and I am a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park majoring in Global Social Change and Development and minoring in Latin American Studies and International Development and Conflict Management. I am originally from Atlanta, GA but came to UMD because of its proximity to DC (and snow!). You can often find me volunteering around campus, baking tasty treats, or just generally frolicking! After traveling to Chile for a short term study abroad my sophomore year, I have definitely caught the travel bug and hope one day backpack throughout Latin America. Costa Rica is bound to be an adventure of language, culture, and biodiversity - and I have my waterproof hiking boots at the ready!</span></p>