Wilson Scholars – service and sustainability education in Costa Rica

From Oct. 8-15, the 2016 Wilson Scholars will engage in service opportunities and sustainability education in Costa Rica at Monteverde Institute. This type of experience is one of many opportunities Appalachian State University students have to become engaged global citizens and understand their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future.

The six freshmen – Vicky Anderson, Grace Bowling, Fahiima Mohamed, Javon Nathaniel, Jake Powell and Anisha Sharma – will be led by the Wilson Scholars Program faculty director, Dr. David Marlett, and his wife, Emily, Walker College of Business employer relations coordinator.

The Wilson Scholarship is Appalachian’s most prestigious merit-based scholarship and embodies a rich blend of academic excellence, leadership and service. Currently 14 Wilson Scholars are on campus. Each incoming group has taken an academic trip during fall semester.

“The goal of the Costa Rica program is to provide a meaningful international experience that develops global knowledge and cultivates intercultural competencies,” Marlett explained. “We chose Costa Rica because we wanted the focus to be on sustainability and also have community service opportunities. Plus, it is fairly close and the students will not have to deal with jet lag when they return.”

The agenda includes the following activities:

  • Hike in Poás Volcano National Park (view active crater and hike through elfin forest to Botos lagoon)
  • Locally guided natural history hike to the continental divide in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
  • Tour of Monteverde Institute, including sustainability initiatives
  • Latin dance class with local high school students
  • Service work in the Monteverde Institute gardens
  • Presentation by Cofounder Patricia Jiménez of CASEM, the Cooperativa de Artesanas de Santa Elena y Monteverde, a non-profit artisan cooperative dedicated to enhancing the economic and social well-being of local women artists
  • Reforestation service work in the Bellbird Biological Corridor led by Deb Hamilton, executive director and researcher at Monteverde Institute and founder of Costa Rican Conservation Foundation.

“We will prepare for the trips during weekly meetings prior to departure,” Marlett said. Helping the students prepare will be geography professor Dr. Mike Mayfield and Dr. Garner Dewey, a native of Costa Rica who directs Appalachian’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) on Global Learning. Both men regularly lead study abroad programs in Costa Rica.

Appalachian’s QEP is a five-year plan focused on introducing students to different cultures and teaching them how to live and interact in a global society. Its global learning initiatives help students explore the world in multiple and varied ways, from events on campus to study, research or service-learning opportunities abroad.