Nicole Troy is a budding ethnologist with a true desire to make a difference in her world. So, it’s no surprise that she was part of the City High team that traveled to Costa Rica this year.
Each year 20 City Charter High School junior and senior students are invited to embark on a journey of personal and cultural discovery in a foreign country. Nicole counts herself as one of the lucky participants. The cultural exchange began exploring the city life of San Jose and being immersed in the “tico” culture. There, students got to tour the National Institute of Music, visit the US Embassy and also squeeze in some time for a Salsa dance lesson.
In rural El Carpio and in the rainforest of Quebrada Arroyo, Nicole and her fellow students continued the work of previous City High groups to help build the infrastructure, including roads and fences. Because of limited accessibility, making cement was difficult without key ingredients like gravel to help create their structures and paving projects. Nicole didn’t mind that they had to hike with backpacks full of rocks up steep rain forest hills. She knew that the work she and her classmates were doing was important to these communities.
While service was the main focus of their trip they also enjoyed zip lining and swimming at Manuel Antonio National Park, hiked to a volcano with a Volcanologist as their guide, and toured several cities. You can learn more about their excursion at: http://costaricachs2013.blogspot.com/
The best thing about the Costa Rica experience? “Overall, it was impactful for the students,” says Keiha Peck, one of the City High adult chaperones on the trip. “It was definitely an eye-opener to be directly exposed to a [different] culture. It’s one thing to read about it in a textbook or learn about it in a classroom, but to actually interact with people who are part of that community (and doing work that will positively impact those neighborhoods and communities), I think that’s what probably stood out the most for our students.”
For many students, this experience helped students confirm the path they were already on. Nicole admits, “I really love volunteer work and dream to hopefully make a change in the world someday.” But forget the “someday”. She is already making a difference, spending her internship with Children’s Museum working with kids who can’t travel to virtually experience volunteerism in Ecuador. She’s also volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and the Humane Society as she explores colleges where she hopes to get her degree in anthropology.
It’s not just the trip abroad that has prepared Nicole for her future. She claims City High’s “looping” has also made a difference in her education (3.8 QPA). “Other high schools don’t loop their teachers. So I got to know my teachers better and they got to know us better. We get used to them and that can build trust.”
So whether it’s classroom learning… or a classroom of a different sort in a different country, City High does amazing things to create amazing young adults. And that’s what it’s all about.