CDS Serving & Learning in Costa Rica
by Peyton Jenkins ’20
On June 7, 2018, sixteen CDS students embarked on a service-learning EcoTeach trip to Costa Rica, lead by former faculty member, Dr. Karla Weidner, accompanied by her daughter, Megan McGufficke ’12 and CDS operations director and alumni parent Jackie Lalor.
During their nine-day adventure, these rising sophomore and freshman students were immersed in Costa Rican culture while diving into the abundant, tropical environment to work on conservation projects to protect endangered leatherback sea turtles and tiger leaf frogs.
The group participated in night patrols on the beaches where leatherbacks were nesting. They even observed the turtles (the size of a student’s palm) hatch and scurry across the sand towards the surf.
Students also worked in the Veragua Rainforest, where Weidner said they were instrumental in the maintenance and repair of the man-made breeding ponds for critically endangered frog species. Rain or shine, these students worked diligently while having a great time, and together as team strove to make a difference.
Aside from the environmental aspect of the trip, the group also visited a rural school, where they helped build a sidewalk for the students’ safety. A special part of their service there was being able to interact with the kids and connect their cultures through playing soccer together. Students made memories that will last a lifetime and gained new perspectives on world culture.
Dr. Weidner has taken five different trips to this tropical island and said that she feels very connected to Costa Rica and its people. But she really has taken her passion for the country to the next level by sharing her love for Costa Rica with her students. "Students who have this experience take away so much more than a typical tourist visiting Costa Rica. I know students leave feeling a close connection with Costa Rica and knowing that they can make a difference in the world," said Weidner. It is clear that these students will take their experience and find their own way to make an impact.
Carolina Day's international trips take teaching and passion beyond the classroom to give students an inspirational experience that will be a part of shaping their future. Though we are sad to see Dr. Weidner go as she embarks on her own journey to teach in Switzerland, we thank her for the unforgettable experiences she has shared with students and the example of her unbridled passion for learning and adventure she has given to the CDS community. We wish her luck on her future endeavors.