A student’s service-learning project as part of a class at Georgia College will help school children in the Central American country of Costa Rica.
“In the fall of 2013, I was in Dr. Cynthia Orm’s Business Ethics class. Around that time is when I found out that there was going to be a study abroad trip to Costa Rica,” said senior Julie Coppedge. “The company who is going to be helping us with our journey, Led2Serve, came to speak to our class about the trip. That is where we were given the idea about having a school supplies drive to raise supplies for students in the Costa Rican schools.”
The focus of the drive was to provide notebooks, paper, pencils and more to students in the schools of northern Costa Rica. “We learned that the government does not have a lot of money to provide supplies for the education system,” said Coppedge. “Immediately, we thought that Georgia College would be the perfect place to raise school supplies.” The support was so great that she was able to collect enough supplies for two grade schools for an entire school year.
“Even though the supplies we raised will be sustainable for a year, I think that the impact will last longer,” said Coppedge. “Hopefully, the students who donated this past year will remember the Costa Rican children when they buy their new supplies for this coming year. It could help remind them to buy a little bit extra to help benefit a child, either in Costa Rica or elsewhere.”
This is just one service-learning aspect from this study abroad experience. Students will also focus on the local community and environmental sustainability resulting in 50 or more hours of service during the month-long trip.
“I think it’s important for students to understand the role they play as global citizens and the responsibility we have outside the U.S.,” said Dr. Cynthia Orms, assistant professor of accounting. “Many study abroad experiences focus on the tourist things to do in a country, but the students here are immersed into the Costa Rican culture, living in a small community, eating local cuisine every meal and working with the community to look at environmental sustainability, ethics and business practices.”
The seven undergraduate and graduate students will also spend some of their spare time zip lining, rafting and taking a boat tour through the rainforest. However it’s the service learning work done throughout the month that really gives them hands-on experience. “I am so excited to get to know the community members, to spend time with them and work with them,” said Coppage. “I believe that this trip is going to change my life for the better, and I am so ready to experience it all.”
To follow their progress, check out their Facebook page. The students will post blog entries and photos from their experience.