IU East students to share research from Costa Rica

April 23rd, 2010

It’s not often students can directly see the impact spending habits at home can have on communities outside of the United States.

A group of Indiana University East students traveled to Costa Rica as part of their class on Fair Trade versus Free Trade and the Effects of Globalization on Central America taught by Teresa Henderson, lecturer of World Languages and Cultures. While there, the class studied free and fair trade as well as the effects international corporations have on environmental systems.

Students will present these findings and upcoming projects to the community at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, at the Townsend Center. They hope to connect their research with the local community through service-learning projects. The students presenting are Joy Atkins, Jason Baker, Dorotha King, William Langley, Marc Price, Jerry Richwine, and Jacquelynn Steele.

While in Costa Rica, the students met with community organizers and activists who are working to raise their communities out of poverty and others that are struggling to protect their families and neighbors from extraordinarily powerful international corporations that are trying to use the area for their own needs with little regard for the short and long-term effects on the local populous, flora and fauna.

Marc Price, a sophomore education major, said he improved his Spanish speaking abilities through participation on the trip but more importantly, he learned what real, sustainable tourism is.

“We visited a sustainable eco-lodge at a place called Isla Chira. The lodge was started by a small group of women who were scoffed at by the men on the island. In the end, the men apologized and the lodge offers tours and a sustainable lodge at which to stay,” Price said. “They were a fantastic group of women.”

Students were able to hike through four different ecosystems: an island, a cloud forest, a volcanic park, and a beachfront area. Henderson said while on the trip, students milked a cow, saw a sloth, chased various intimidating insects, scorpions and frogs out of their rooms, ate plantains with rice and beans each morning, tried exotic fruits and main dishes.

They also met with Guadalupe Urbina, a beloved folk musician and activist in Costa Rica, for a private discussion and performance. Students had the opportunity to meet a great many truly inspiring women who are changing lives in complete anonymity, Henderson said.

“The students returned with a distinct passion for working for positive change. Three are working on ways to return and a fourth has applied for a Summer Research Scholar grant to learn more about service-learning,” Henderson said.

The presentation is free and open to the community. Please contact Teresa Henderson, lecturer of World Languages and Cultures, at teahende@iue.edu or call (765) 973-8339 to make your reservation.

Photos taken by the students are published online in our FlickR Galleries.

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