Class of 2024 Service Learning Trip

Class of 2024 Service Learning Trip
Tanya Spishak

The eighth grade international service trip is designed to be a culminating experience for students. 

The goals of the service learning trip are threefold:  to apply students understanding of the Spanish language in an immersive environment, to positively impact a community through service projects identified by local NGOs (non-government organization), and to conduct on the ground research about social and economic issues in a community other than their own. 

As a part of the trip, Woodland students were divided into groups with a chaperone leader.  Each group has a specific topic and guiding questions they research during their time in Costa Rica.  Topics include Culture and Community, Economy, Social Classes and Family, Education, and Biodiversity.  Students did an incredible job talking to locals in Spanish, asking questions to learn more for the presentations they shared upon their return to Woodland. They used notebooks throughout the trip to keep track of their learnings (and also reference some key Spanish terms and phrases). 

The more information they gather, the more students are grappling with the complexity of these topics.  For example, locals in Cano Negro need to fish in order to feed their families, but due to the area being a protected refuge, fishing is controlled by the government and illegal during different parts of the year.  Students are understanding there is rarely a straightforward answer that solves a problem for all involved.  It was inspiring to hear them questioning what is “right” or “fair” and starting to apply their own values and personal perspectives to these issues.  Students increased their strength of voice during this journey.

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