Costa Rica - Summer 2011 Nature and Environmental Design
For about a month during the summer of 2011, I along with six UGA-MLA students, two UGA-BLA students, and a MLA student from Washington State University, traveled to San Luis, Costa Rica for a service-learning program combining travel, community development and design exploration.
I was able to take 2 courses. The first course (syllabus) concentrated on community projects within the small town of San Luis, a circulation and seating opportunity at a public soccer field as well as a bus stop design to function not only as shelter, but a gateway into San Luis. The second course (syllabus) focused on the UGA-Costa Rica campus' Botanical Gardens where a bird-watching habitat and platform will be implemented. All design work was team oriented with production all by hand and on our good friend, trash. Six credit hours were earned.
Outside the studio, we enjoyed experiencing the amazing cloud-forest environment and the ecological and sustainable practices that many tico farmers are returning to. Side trips to organic farms, coffee farms, Rancho Margot (an off-the-grid ecolodge), and local homestays were learning by immersion at its best. The visual and experiential learning continued with horseback rides, trail hikes, waterfall swims, boating across Lake Arenal, town festivals, dance lessons, balloon-animal creations, bug killing, and endless bus rides.
If that wasn't enough, Costa Rica 2011 was amplified by having my wife and two daughters join us. Memories made by Haley (2 at the time) and Whitney (4) will probably drift off to wherever our early-childhood memories go, but Sarah and I will cherish the unique time we had with them in the cloud forest for a lifetime. I can only hope their hearts and minds will be forever changed in some way from the people and places they witnessed first hand.
I can't thank the Neel Reid Scholarship committee enough for awarding me the financial assistance to make this trip possible.