“A Once in a Lifetime Experience”— STUdents reflect on Experiential Learning Trip to Costa Rica

Group of students on trip in Costa Rica with waterfall in background

Twelve STUdents spent their fall reading week learning about sustainability, human rights, and community service in Costa Rica.  


During the experiential learning trip, the group participated in a variety of community-led projects while being immersed in a different culture.  


Through hands-on experience, these STUdents broadened their perspectives, intercultural sensitivity, and global understanding of real-world issues. 


A rewarding experience 


Jessica Giaccone, from New Hampshire, took part in the trip to try something different and get out of her comfort zone—and she’s glad she did. 


“This experience was once in a lifetime and something I will never forget. Being able to interact and help teach English to a community that was so small and vibrant was so rewarding,” said Giaccone.  


By participating in the sustainability projects on the trip, Giaccone was able to draw connections to her in-class learning on industrial agriculture, biodiversity loss, and the habits of human consumption.  


 “Learning in textbooks or through films is one thing but experiencing it in person is a whole different educational experience."   


Solidified what I wanted as a career 


Emmanuelle Jackson had never travelled outside of Canada before. Growing up in Fredericton as a Black and Indigenous person, she felt limited connection with her culture or community. She said this trip taught her the importance of actively exploring her culture and identity.  


“I never wanted to be just a tourist. I was there to learn and I wanted to experience a culture I had never seen before.”  


Jackson’s life goal is to be a teacher and she was inspired by the opportunity to teach English to a female-led cooperative in the rural community of San Ramon de Saripiqui.   


“This was a major lesson for me because it solidified what I wanted to do as a career,” she said. 


Enriching and eye-opening  


Amber Rae, from Halifax, first heard about the trip from the STU’s Experiential Learning Office and saw it as an opportunity to make new connections and develop new skills.  


Rae was captivated by Costa Rica’s wildlife and natural beauty, the delicious authentic foods, the recreational activities, and the successful local sustainable projects.  


The exposure to real-world issues also allowed Rae to think more critically and contextualize concepts she learned in class.  


“Seeing issues addressed in a non-western light we're so often used to living in Canada was enriching and eye-opening for me,” said Rae.  


“I would highly recommend this program to students in the future!” 




This International Experiential Learning Trip was made possible through Global Skills Opportunity which offer international experiences for students at various organizations across the country. Global Skills Opportunity is funded by the Government of Canada through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The project was organized in partnership with Global Learnings Costa Rica, who also hosted the trip.  


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