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Spring Break Unlike the Rest

Costa Rica Spring Break
Widener’s Anthropology Department hosted a spring break cultural-immersion trip to Costa Rica.

Dozens of Widener students took advantage of international and domestic travel opportunities over spring break to experience new cultures and impact the lives of others.

The unique travel opportunities ranged from tourism and hospitality management students touring the Colosseum in Rome to anthropology students experiencing Costa Rican culture at a rodeo to field hockey players competing in Bermuda.

Alternative Spring Break

Nearly 60 students traveled with the Alternative Spring Break program, organized through the Office of Student Affairs. They went to Habitat for Humanity sites in Tucker, Georgia, Franklin, Tennessee, Sumter, South Carolina, Pensacola, Florida, and Houston, Texas where they helped build more than 50 houses.

“Each year the students travel to new places to explore and immerse themselves in the culture of the areas, while serving hand in hand with those at local Habitat for Humanity affiliates,” said Jeanine Snow, director of student engagement. “Students make lasting connections with students, faculty and staff who serve as learning partners on the trips, and those from the local communities while doing service that changes the lives of so many people.”

Around the World

Widener students also ventured outside the United States, with two groups traveling to Costa Rica.

The first group, led by Anthropology Instructor Chelsea Abbas and Assistant Director of Communications Jessica Reyes, had an action-packed excursion to aid in the rural development association of Boca Arenal’s annual community fiestas and rodeo.

The six undergraduate and graduate students, who fundraised for the trip by selling tamales on campus, toured the rain forest and volcanic hot springs, learned about organic, fair trade pineapple farming, and led language-learning activities at a local elementary school.

“The best way for students to learn about foreign cultures is not in a classroom, but immersed in a global setting different from their own. Having the opportunity to meet local people and explore new places allows students to challenge their worldviews and critically engage with social issues," Abbas said. 

Domenic Gaeta, a senior anthropology major, said the Costa Rica trip helped him see firsthand a common theme in his anthropology courses – what it means to be human.

I learned we aren’t so different – no matter where we live, what language we speak or what we look like. — Domenic Gaeta.

Civic Engagement

Alternative spring break civic engagement
Nearly 60 students traveled with the Alternative Spring Break program to places across the United States.

A second group, organized through Presidential Service Corps/Bonner Leader program, under the direction of Gretchen Mielke, assistant dean for civic engagement, also traveled to Costa Rica over break.

Mielke guided senior undergraduates from the program under a travel model that seeks an understanding of civic engagement from an international perspective. The group focused on sustainability and community development through multiple excursions, including a visit to a wind generator park, where they discussed power with an engineer.

“Our aim is always to develop long-term sustainable community partnerships, working on self-identified needs of local community agencies,” Mielke said.

Both groups that visited Costa Rica spent time at Widener’s hub, known as CARES21, north of San Jose.

A hospitality management group visited Italy under the direction of Associate Professor Jeffrey Lolli and Associate Professor Angie Corbo, and Professor Pat Dyer, director of the Writing Center, led another group to Honduras.

Finally, several sports teams took advantage of the break to travel, too. The university field hockey team traveled to Bermuda for five days, where players explored caves, learned how to play cricket, volunteered at a residence for senior citizens and played field hockey against two Bermudian teams.

Athletic programs also sent baseball and softball teams to Florida, the men’s lacrosse team to Colorado, and women’s lacrosse team to Virginia.

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