Study Abroad trip opens students to new perspectives

By Lacie Piekarski
Marketing ’19

Costa RicaFour Trine University students participated in a Study Abroad expedition to Costa Rica to receive training on how to travel with students abroad.

Ashley Elliott, a senior chemistry major from Scottsburg, Indiana; Mikaela Gerba, a senior social studies education major from Highland, Indiana; Sam Miller, a senior English major from Sturgis, Michigan; and Tylor Willms, a senior sport and recreation major from Angola, Indiana; participated in an expedition hosted by Worldstrides, an educational travel organization that designs opportunities for students to travel and study abroad while participating in experiential learning.

The Worldstrides Pre-service Teacher Convention was held from May 25-30 in Costa Rica. Students heard about the opportunity from others who had previously participated in a Worldstrides program or through guest speakers.

The purpose of the trip is to help teachers open their mind and expand their curriculum to incorporate a more global perspective. The project hopes to help students understand different perspectives and experiences around the world by visiting another country and experiencing a new culture firsthand. 

Students participated in workshops each morning and night, discussing topics like how to help students understand cross-cultural experiences and bringing perspectives from other cultures into the classroom. They also had the opportunity to go zip lining in the rainforest, experience and learn traditional Costa Rican dance rituals, and visit Manuel Antonio National Park and a crocodile safari.

Gerba said the trip gave her an application for the diversity of cultures around the world. 

"I realized that the world is a huge place and my classroom is one tiny speck in a beach of sand," she said.  She believes the training the education students received will benefit their future students. 

“I have formal training on how to take students abroad, if I wanted, and how to bring the world to my students,” she stated.

She was struck by the Costa Rican concept of “pura vida,” translated as “pure life,” which also was discussed in the workshops, 

“People live their lives appreciating what the earth offers to them, what they have in life and benefiting everyone around them,” she said. 

“I was happy I had the opportunity to go on this trip,” Elliott commented. “We were able to learn about the importance of understanding different perspectives, how perspectives are formed from personal experiences, and how international travel can help broaden those perspectives.”

Photo: Beginning second from left, Trine students Sam Miller, Tylor Willms, Ashley Elliott and Mikaela Gerba prepare to go zip lining in Costa Rica. The other student pictured is another participant in the Worldstrides Pre-service Teacher Convention.