Region – Bancroft's Middle School language students, led by Spanish teacher Jody Stephenson, traveled to Heredia, Costa Rica, with 10 language students over spring break March 18 to 26. The trip represented a new partnership between Bancroft School and the Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI Language School) of Heredia.
As part of their experience, students lived with host families, took Spanish language classes each morning at the CPI Language School, collaborated on two community service projects, engaged with local students, and witnessed a number of rich cultural offerings through visits to a local cloud forest, a coffee plantation and a volcanic hot springs.
“Extending the learning experience for our Middle School kids beyond the simple walls of a classroom is nothing new for us,” said Jody Stephenson, an eight-year member of the faculty at Bancroft School. “Costa Rica has been a part of my life for many years having studied and taught there in the past. It was a beautiful, rewarding and meaningful thing to see my students making new friendships, taking risks with speaking the language, and emotionally responding to their humanitarian service experience.”
Through the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, a nonprofit committed to providing economic solutions to social challenges, Bancroft students worked in a local community of Nicaraguan immigrants, painting houses and creating a mural for the outside of a nearby nursery school.
“Their homes were very small and made with a flimsy metal,” said Jose Garcia, a seventh-grader at Bancroft. “I was really impressed with how happy these kids were when they clearly had so little. Everyone was welcoming, friendly and I am excited to keep in touch with my new Latin American family through Facebook.”
On the heels of this successful first-year excursion to Heredia with her Middle School students, Stephenson has already begun to plan the school's next trip in two years.
“Our partnership with the CPI Language School and the Humanitarian Foundation made a huge impact on the success of our trip, which has given our students a real-world global experience that they will treasure for a lifetime.”
Seventh-grader Divya Navani, of Shrewsbury, was moved by the sincerity of her hosts and the kindness of the kids she met during the experience.
“It was an emotional departure for all of us since the bond grew day-by-day. I was really touched when the local kids made all of us these beautiful little angels of wire and beads to wear around our necks as a way to remember the new friends we'se made in Costa Rica.”