Sixteen Roane State Community College students traveled to Costa Rica this summer to build a sea turtle nursery, give needed school supplies to elementary school children, help teach English to college students, and immerse themselves in a foreign culture.
The students were part of a Roane State study abroad service learning class. The class has been offered for the past eight years and gives students the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and earn college credit in business or education.
Costa Rica is home to four species of sea turtles. Roane State students constructed a nursery that will protect turtle eggs from poachers, tourists, and other harmful elements. The eggs are monitored around the clock until they hatch.
“The nursery habit is now open and a success,” said Stuart Reckseit, Peace Corps volunteer at Asociacion de Voluntarios para el Servicio en Areas Protegidas, or ASVO, a program for the conservation of the turtle habitat. “What the Roane State students accomplished would have taken us many weeks. We now have the habitat open in time for the early nesting season and have 10 active nests.”
Students also raised funds that they used to purchase school supplies for elementary school students. Class members arrived at Escuela Panica Dos, a rural elementary school in the jungle of Costa Rica, with more notebooks and pencils than they could handle.
“These children will always remember what you did for them,” Odilie Calvo, the group’s leader through Immersion Abroad Costa Rica, told the students.
The Roane State students taught lessons and then spent the rest of the day throwing football and jumping rope with the children.
“It was an unforgettable day for everyone involved,” student Zoe Hill said.
Roane State students also worked with college-aged students. They attended the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje, or INA, in Grecia. INA is a free form of education that teaches students English and other important skills for the workplace. Roane State students paired with the INA students for the day to swap language skills.
The study abroad course was led by associate professor Dave Rath of Maryville and assistant professor Cody Villarreal of Farragut.
Participating Roane State students were: Augusta Betterton, Crossville; Christine Collier, Oak Ridge; Deborah Seiber, Clinton; Holly Whited, Lenoir City; Tanner McGuire, Rockwood; Jared Malicoat, Rockwood; Jasmine Rogers, Oak Ridge; John Rose, Deer Lodge; Morgan Dean, Wartburg; Nathaniel Dillow, Oak Ridge; Raleigh Betterton, Crossville; Rebecca Farmer, Rockwood; Stephanie Anderson, Coalfield; Sydnie Fisher, Andersonville; Trevor Corbin, Rockwood; and Zoe Hill, Rockwood.
For more information about Roane State’s international education program, visit roanestate.edu/internationaleducation. To learn more about the Costa Rica class, contact Dave Rath at (865) 354-3000, ext. 4333 or [email protected].
Copyright 2016 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.