Costa Rica offers education opportunity
Friday, September 21, 2007
By Wendy Sanders
Oklahoma Christian University students are often given opportunities to
travel to foreign countries for mission work or education. Through the
Counsel for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) two students are
able to study in Costa Rica this semester.
Amie Hersh and Allison Bower left for Latin America in August with
Spanish knowledge and an eagerness to study in another culture. Both
Hersh and Bower are Spanish majors and are now able to experience life
in the Latin American culture.
CCCU has been helping many students study abroad through more programs
than the Christian schools can offer. Director of international
programs, John Osborne, has been the CCCU connection for the students
for the past few years.
“The focus of these programs is helping students of Christian
universities have these study experiences that will shape and form them
to learn and grow,” Osborne said.
Hersh and Bower have now been in San José, Costa Rica, for a month and are staying in host family homes.
“This is their Latin America studies program. The reason it is good for
these students is they’ll get a more in-depth Spanish language
experience,” Osborne said.
When they are not in class studying, they are typically reading for
homework, riding the bus about four hours each day, and traveling.
The girls are studying mostly about the politics, economy and language
of Costa Rica. This is not Hersh’s first trip to Peru, but this is the
longest she has been away from home.
“I could tell you that they are religious about cleaning their floors
in their houses, that women are sometimes treated like belongings, or
that there is no such thing as a personal bubble, but it wouldn’t do
justice to the culture. You have to live it to know it,” Hersh said.
Bower has been able to travel to many places during her time at
Oklahoma Christian. She traveled with the Vienna Studies program in the
fall of 2005 and has also been to Mexico several times. This is her
first time traveling to Central and South America.
During the past month, Bower has been able to travel around the area and learn with first hand experience.
“The main emphasis is on opening our eyes and our minds, understanding
the world from a view outside of our own, and acting out of love and a
Christian mind-set upon what we see. We live with local families and
interact with them every day. They are really becoming like our
families,” Bower said.
The main language in Costa Rica is Claro, not Spanish. The girls are
learning but are mostly able to get around the city using Spanish.
“Our families are not allowed to speak English to us, and you can’t function in the city without knowing Spanish,” Hersh said.
Hersh and Bower have had many culturally educating experiences in Costa Rica.
Bower recently celebrated her birthday and ended up spending the afternoon with a local woman named Lupe.
“Having just found out it was my birthday, she quickly found in her
home some gifts to give me: a shirt given to her by a friend that said
‘Jamaica’ on it and a stuffed bunny. To be honest, I don’t need either
one. The shirt is too big, and the bunny is old and useless, but those
gifts were so special to me,” Bower said.
Both Hersh and Bower will return to the states in the middle of December.
“If you have a chance to study abroad, just do it. Don’t ask questions
and don’t doubt; just do it. You won’t regret it,” Hersh said.
The CCCU program web site, http://www.bestsemester.com, is the way in which many students learn about the programs for which they can apply.
“We haven’t sent many students, but this year, we have the largest
number ever which is four. We have several applicants for the spring as
well,” Osborne said.
Students, Elaine Ekpo and Titus Ellis, are also studying away from campus through CCCU’s help.