3 Students Embark on QFI Yallah trip to Costa Rica!
This summer 3 BAA students joined a group of 32 other students from the US, Brazil, and Qatar to travel to Washington DC and then Costa Rica for almost two weeks. Through Qatar Foundation International (QFI), students were able to embark on cultural exploration and environment exploration! BAA Students were Gabe McCrea, Jessica Martinez, and Carlos Sanchez who traveled with BAA Student Support Clinician and Family Services Coordinator Stacy Calhoun.
This Today @ BAA post is written by Stacy Calhoun!
In DC, QFI provided the students with all the materials they needed for the trip, including an underwater digital camera that they were able to keep after the trip finished. They were very excited, as you can imagine, and the camera took great quality photos. Next, two National Geographic photographers held a full day training for the students about how to take strong pictures. To finish our time in DC, we toured many of the major landmarks, ate delicious American and Middle Eastern cuisine, and also spent a day canoeing and cleaning the Anacostia Waterway, one of the nation’s most polluted waterways.
Arriving in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, we stayed at an American boarding school partly run by two teachers, one of whom was a marine biologist. They, in partnership with QFI, planned our activities for the 9 days we were there and accompanied us on many of our journeys. The students certainly learned about the environment in a deeper way because of their presence.
Next comes the slew of activities lined up for us. Some days consisted of different hikes to awe-inspiring panoramic views, through active volcanic terrain, and in well-preserved national parks. Other days we visited different beaches to swim, surf, go tide pooling, and kayak through mangroves/estuaries. More adventures included inner tubing down a river, zip-lining, horseback riding, and rock climbing through the rainforest, and a visit to a geothermal plant where the students learned how some of the country’s energy was generated. We also went boating a few times. On one trip we went birdwatching/crocodile spotting in a little river boat, another time we went for a sunset sail where there was music, dancing, and traditional Costa Rican dishes provided, and a third boating outing took us to a spot where we snorkeled.
The food was another highlight of the trip. After one of our hiking trips, we were taken to a completely solar powered organic restaurant. The restaurant was constructed on farmland where they cultivated their own crops, producing most of the food prepared and served at the restaurant. The owners taught the students how to make compost and demonstrated how they planted their crops. The consensus was that, by far, it was the best meal we had all trip.
The students were eager to learn about different cultural backgrounds and were nothing but open-minded, respectful, and appreciative of cultural differences. They had lots of Arabic exposure as well, hearing it often and speaking it from time to time.
“This trip was really awesome. It was the best thing I’ve done with a bunch of strangers. I ended up getting close to everybody and we all had an awesome time.” – Gabe, participating student