This Earth Day, we continued the connection between the 10th and 11th-grade students of Jorge Debravo high school and Verto University college freshmen. They gathered in the botanical gardens on the graduate campus of CATIE, an international institute for agricultural development and biological conservation.
Earlier that week, CCC program moderator Kayla Angstadt led a classroom warm-up activity, in which students thought about their favorite meal and the global carbon impact of their food. It was clear that students were new to tracing the origin and production of their food, broadening their minds to global environmental issues.
The day started in the botanical garden, where students took a tour with lead educators of CATIE. They walked around sampling fruit to learn about their growth patterns, health benefits, and, most enjoyably, tastes. Much of the produce was new to students, even though they grew up in a tropical fruit country. Together, students collected fruit and edible flowers to be shared during their merienda, or snack time, at the end of the walk.
Next, students traveled to CATIE’s main campus, where multiple Verto students completed their capstone project by preparing lessons to share with the high school students. One group led a discussion about gardening, unpacking the personal benefits and environmental impact of producing your own fruits, vegetables, and spices.
Another group focused on sustainable businesses in Costa Rica. They tied in local issues, presenting organizations that could solve problems in their community. One of these is a successful local startup called “Blanco y Negro,” run by two sisters who own a sustainable organic farm and sell food products with only locally sourced ingredients. Students had the opportunity to try delicious baked goods made by the business, including cookies and brownies, all from sustainable sources!
Lastly, students played games together and enjoyed each other’s company over tea and fruits that they picked at the botanical garden. They also painted recycled CDs to hang in sustainability gardens that the Verto students are currently constructing. Jorge DeBravo students learned that the reflection of CDs repels birds, and would be used to keep them away from the vegetables as well as protect them from windows.
After the morning was complete, students said goodbye to their connections. With parental approval, some students exchanged social media to keep in touch with their new international friends. Many of them expressed that they enjoyed the experience and hope to do something like it again soon. When students participate in sustainability activities that are engaging and collaborative, they learn about environmental issues and develop a sense of personal responsibility to take care of the world around them. Read more about our past workshops here!
About the organizations:
Centro Educativo Jorge DeBravo is a local private school in Turrialba, Costa Rica that values multicultural education and global citizenship. Cross Cultural Connect has been hosting connections through their school around the world for the past 7 years.
Verto Education is a study abroad program available for first year university level students in the United States. Students have the opportunity to take their general education courses abroad in countries like Spain, Italy, England and Costa Rica.
CATIE, The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, is an international institute for agricultural development and biological conservation in Central America and the Caribbean, combining science, education and innovation. CATIE is the first graduate school in Agricultural Sciences in Latin America.
Blanco y Negro (black and white) is a small local buisness owned and operated by two sisters. Their mission is to provide local and sustainable food products to the greater community while educating students about organic farming.
Cross Cultural Connect is the glue that brings them all together!