It has been a little over a month upon returning from Costa Rica and I still think about my trip every day. I didn’t expect to get so close to the people I travelled with and attached to the country itself. It was my first time going abroad and I wasn’t with anyone familiar, so I thought I would end up isolating myself and going into my comfort zone. However, I surprised myself many times- from little things such as actually trying new foods (I’m an extremely picky eater), to voluntarily embarking on lengthy nature walks. I feel the biggest lesson I took away from this trip was learning how to take chances because more times than not they can benefit you. In regards to Building Bridges, Not Walls I completely agree with the central theme of the article. I think over the last few years it has become less important to actually immerse yourself into something that interests you. If you give it a few moments of fleeting attention and maybe a retweet, that’s good enough. With the direction our society is going in this is not going to cut it anymore. In my everyday life, I feel that I am more willing to take risks and be more expressive about my passions due to being inspired on my trip. I would love nothing more than to have the chance to return to Costa Rica someday. read more →

This past week my mom has been accompanying me on several trips to our favorite stores making sure I have all the necessities I need for this trip. There were many things I already had, like comfortable shirts/shorts, sandals, the usual. Still, I barely had any space to move around in my room when we were done; the haul was real. Pairs on top of pairs of sleepwear, hiking shorts and pants, sun hats, sneakers, etc etc etc. It took time to sort through what we didn’t need and could return than it did to do the actual shopping itself! Nonetheless, it’s all apart of the process and although it’s been somewhat stressful at times it’s still a lot of fun.

I’m learning a lot of helpful skills to retain when it comes to travelling that I will hopefully apply several times throughout my lifetime. There aren’t many things I’ll be leaving behind because I absolutely refused to leave my hair care and skincare necessities at home: face astringent, Neutrogena acne treatment, Shea butter and everything else you could think of is coming with me :). My mentor, Leslie, recommended that I definitely take some loose but long pants because of the modest dress culture in Costa Rica. Fortunately two of my favorite pairs of pants fall under this category, so that was a win-win.

I’ll be dedicating the entire day before my flight to going down the checklist I’ve created and physically packing my bags for my trip. I’ll most likely be vlogging the process so I can include on my personal blog/digital brochure. This flight will only be my second throughout my life, and the thing I’m most anxious about is losing luggage T_T. I am looking forward to figuring out how to somewhat navigate an airport on my own, though! read more →

A note from TWS: It is important that our Wandering Scholars prepare for their journeys by researching their host country before they leave home. The below post is the product of an assignment in which we ask our Scholars to read and share something interesting they’ve learned about Costa Rica’s history, culture, or politics. 

In the last few years there have been periodical strikes from Costa Rica’s teachers and those of other occupations who feel wronged by their country’s treatment and lack of prioritization of their respective institutions (education, medical, etc). Among the ‘seven claims’ of these employees are demands such as decreasing work overload, increase of salary and opposing to having their pay deducted for a previous strike in September 2015.Most media sources gave thorough explanations as to the motivation behind the protests and why it is important for those in the Costa Rica workforce to stand up for their rights. APSE (APSE – Association of Teachers of Secondary Education), ANDE (National Association of Educators) , and UNDECA (National Union of Employees of the Fund and Social Security) are three major teacher unions all joining together to protest against President Guillermo’s administration. However, some other outlets pointed out the impact on the community during the protests. These strikes left many classrooms empty and those in need of medical assistance waiting or forced to go home.

Nonetheless, the protests made many concerns and frustrations of the middle and lower class public and uncensored. Among the demands were also for upperclass citizens to pay taxes and for access to water to be a public right rather than a privilege. Costa Rica’s government predicts protests such as these are steadily gearing the public to a shared mindset about breaking down social structures and aggravating an intense class struggle.

I chose to analyze this topic because there were several teacher protests in my city this year. Over the last few years, the School District of Philadelphia has struggled financially and was forced to close many schools and let go of many staff to save money. This year, teachers consistently protested the contract that had been severed and dismissed for a handful of years.

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