Students travel to Costa Rica on ASB; reflects on experience

During spring break, six Wilkes students traveled to Costa Rica for Alternative Spring Break, ASB.

Students Elizabeth Bracco, Jimmy Steigerwalt, Shana Noon, Julie Miller, Cody Logan, and Nicole Morgan were accepted into the Alternative Spring Break program to travel to Costa Rica to do volunteer community service in the schools and the coffee fields.

Prior to departure, Bracco and Steigerwalt and the ASB committee held a drive for school supplies to give to the students in Costa Rica.  They estimate that they collect about 50 pounds of school supplies ranging from notebooks to markers for the Costa Rican students. Enough supplies were collected to send to two schools. The ASB members feel that by donating the supplies, they have bettered the education of the students.
“We had a 5-year-old boy, I gave him a couple notebooks and some crayons and he started crying because he was so happy,” stated Bracco on the Costa Rican student’s reactions to the donations.

While at the Costa Rican school, the ASB students interacted with the children; ages ranging from 5 to 15-years-old. They built a flower garden with the children, and played with them in-between lessons. Bracco stated that some of the children’s favorite activities included hide and seek and tag- which the Costa Rican students called ‘cat and mouse’ in Spanish. The Wilkes students also taught English to the 140 students at the school.

The ASB members were also invited by a family to tour their coffee fields. The Wilkes students learned how coffee was harvest and made into the end product. They visited a coffee co-op to view the process on a larger scale.

The Wilkes students also had some free time for touring. They climbed to the peak of Volcano Irazu; peaking through the clouds at 11,000 feet high.

“I think that I have become a lot more grateful. We go through many things in our life, like our struggles, and you see… these people are willing to learn and willing to give and I think that is definitely something I have learned and taken away from that,” Bracco states on her experience.

In the course of 6 months before departure, students prepare by attending weekly meetings, conducting numerous fundraisers, and engaging in team-building activities. ASB held several fund raiser events for funding their program including, chocolate fondue event, empandas turnovers sale, and their annual pasta dinner.

Bracco gave some advice to Wilkes students who are considering applying for next year’s Alternative Spring Break, “I think everyone should give ASB a chance and apply. I think that what you learn from the trip will stay with you for the rest of your life.”

The Wilkes Alternative Spring Break program gives an opportunity for students to participate in giving back to the community and provides cultural experiences as well as self discovery. In its previous 19 years of establishment, Wilkes students have traveled to India, Germany, Peru, and the Dominican Republic including many domestic destinations.

For more information on the ASB program, contact Megan  A.  Boone Valkenburg,

Community Service Coordinator, at [email protected]