Language immersion students forgo Mexico for Costa Rica trip
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Monday, April 30, 2012
4/30/12 at 10:18 AM
Spanish language immersion students at Eisenhower and Zarrow International Schools had to exchange their exchange trip to Mexico for one to Costa Rica, but it worked out to be a good trade-off in the end.
Mexico's violent drug war and the numerous travel warnings it has prompted from the U.S. State Department forced an end to a nearly 15-year-old exchange program between the Tulsa schools and one in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Six years of students' hopes dashed, local school leaders started looking for alternate study abroad options that would give them the opportunity to be immersed in language and culture.
"Picture this: You've been looking forward to a trip for so long - competing for it really - and then it's canceled and all of that is destroyed. Out of the ashes, something good comes up," said Josh Diaz, an Eisenhower fifth-grader.
That opportunity of a lifetime is 11 days in a Central American country that draws tourists worldwide to its tropical climate, Pacific and Caribbean coasts and lush rainforest.
Students will stay with non-English-speaking host families, attend a language academy most days, plus hike through a rainforest and visit a cocoa plantation and a jade museum.
"We are very excited about the upcoming Costa Rica experience for our students. This opportunity will allow the students to improve their second language proficiency, develop lifelong friendships and become more autonomous global citizens," said Lezlie Segovia, exchange coordinator for Eisenhower and Zarrow.
Many of the 28 participating fifth-graders and their parents consider it a better option than an eight-week stay in Mexico.
"For the most part, these families would not have opted for the Mexico trip. They're not 8-week-away kids," said Kristin Ferguson, whose only child, Olin Ferguson, attends Eisenhower.
Jack Gower, 11, readily admitted, "I wouldn't have wanted to be away from my family for so long."
Niemann Walker and Olivia Porter, both 11, said they have been preparing for the trip, which begins Wednesday, for three months.
"We have journals where we will write about what we see and do," Walker said.
Porter said she is looking forward to seeing all of the wildlife of the rainforest and experiencing the climate "because it's so different than ours."
Diaz, meanwhile, said he has read extensively about all of the species they may encounter on their hike, including poison dart frogs.
"We're kind of the guinea pigs, which I like because I kind of like the spark of adventure in life," he said.
Original Print Headline: Language immersion students forgo Mexico for Costa Rica
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
These Eisenhower International School Spanish immersion students will join with others Spanish speaking students from Zarrow International School and travel to Costa Rica this year. Students had planned on going to Mexico, but that trip had been called off because of safety concerns. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World