By Danny Priest
Twelve Springfield College students spread across the environmental science, biology, sports biology, and health science majors went on a 10-day trip to Costa Rica over winter break, led by Assistant Professor of Biology Melinda Fowler and Assistant Professor of Environmental Biology Justin Compton.
“We were in Costa Rica for 10 days and we visited a tropical rainforest and a dry tropical forest and the students carried out research projects,” Fowler said of the trip.
Students on the trip conducted research that they will be analyzing this semester and turning into a paper, as well as in a Scholars in Action Poster. The trip, which was the first of its kind, was a huge success. Fowler gives all of the credit to the students.
“The students did an amazing job stepping up and working hard on their data collection, as well as embracing the group experience and Costa Rican culture,” she said.
Dirara Vicedomini, a junior in the Physician’s Assistant program who went on the trip, had high praise for the experience.
“I went into this experience with no clue what to expect and learned more than I ever thought was possible. We saw science, culture, and landscapes I have never had the opportunity to explore before,” she said. “It was an experience I will never forget, that I would highly recommend for future classes.”
Planning is already underway for a similar trip in 2021 and interested students can talk to Professor Fowler or Compton about attending.
In addition to the Costa Rica trip, 12 other Springfield College students went abroad over winter break to Peru. Led by three advisors, Matthew Braddak (Assistant Director for YMCA Relations), Erin Friedman (Director of YMCA Relations), and Saul Valdiviezo (Assistant Professor of Business Management), the students embarked on a seven-day trip that involved two major projects.
The first project involved aiding an organization called “Siempre Unidas.” According to junior Lily Holm, Siempre Unidas is an organization in Peru run by a group of female entrepreneurs, who were taught tailoring through classes organized by YMCA Peru. They create school uniforms, custom promotional clothing, and other goods which they sell to local schools, the YMCA, and other clients.
“While I was there, I had the honor of interviewing, connecting, and learning from the women about their lives, as well as their dreams, in addition to helping expand their business through marketing and designing an online inventory system,” she said.
The students who went on the trip raised nearly $2,500 while fundraising for this project. The second project focused on students creating and presenting two workshops to over 50 non-formal education leaders of the YMCA Peru. Caroline Marsters, a sophomore who went on the trip, enjoyed her experience and gained valuable takeaways.
“Peru was a program of a lifetime. We were able to work with many different people from a lot of YMCAs around Lima,” she said. “It was very humbling doing service work there because it was a completely different culture and set of values which I really enjoyed learning about.”
For more information about the trip, reach out to any of the three advisors listed above.
Photo courtesy of Erin Friedman