Global community service can improve local conditions. It can also transform our own lives. Students who were involved in UNCG’s four-week Costa Rica Spanish Immersion Program during the summer of 2017 would likely agree with this statement.

“The program started last year, and from the very beginning it was an incredible experience. This past summer was even more impactful,” says Dr. Amy Williamsen, Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at UNCG.

This year, twelve UNCG students, a group of women from many different backgrounds, participated in the program.

“As part of the four-week program, our UNCG students immersed themselves in the language and culture of Costa Rica, experienced three different ecosystems and participated in meaningful community-engaged service. Along with intensive Spanish immersion classes, our students engaged in community service projects, including building a ramp to provide a young wheel-chair confined boy with Down’s Syndrome greater accessibility to his home and the outside world.Student helps young Costa Rican boy.

We also worked with at risk youth in La Carpio on the outskirts of San José, home to many Nicaraguan immigrants, and with a literacy project in Flamingo, Guanacaste. We even reached out to the Cabecar indigeneous community in a remote location.”

Dr. Williamsen is extremely proud of the program and of her students. “Everywhere we went, people commented on what an outstanding group of young women we had representing UNCG.  The students committed to remaining involved in helping those we encountered this summer and have pledged to help fund a Girls’ Club through CEPIA, a local NGO (Non-Governmental Organization).”

UNCG offers study abroad progrChildren at camp in Costa Ricaams in several Spanish speaking countries. For information on UNCG programs abroad, click here or contact the International Programs Center (IPC) at studyabroad@uncg.edu.

To learn more about the Costa Rica Spanish Immersion Program and hear UNCG students’ stories on the experience – watch the YouTube video here. Want to learn more about CEPIA’s Girls’ Clubs? Read this brochure.

Visit UNCG’s Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Department website here.

(Photographs provided by Dr. Williamsen)