In July 2010, 25 Hospitality College students and 2 professors from Johnson & Wales University studied abroad in Costa Rica participating in a 25-day, 13.5 credit, comprehensive Summer Abroad program studying sustainable tourism complemented by eco- and adventure tourism.
The first two weeks of the program were focused at the La Tirimbina Rainforest Center in Sarapiqui studying both eco- and sustainable tourism with Johnson & Wales faculty in conjunction with local Costa Rican professors and industry experts. Coursework and lectures included carbon offset, Leave No Trace, and sustainable tourism which were reinforced with field work and excursions including guided hikes in the rainforest, and tours of pineapple, coffee, and black pepper farms. Additionally, students participated in academic excursions to small family operated organic farms, as well as a 100% sustainable volcanic hot springs, owned and operated by local families where students learned the intricate relationships of operating an enterprise as a business and maintaining sustainability.
The Johnson & Wales students also contributed to voluntourism visiting La Fortuna high school students sharing their college experience, and also visited a local elementary school in Sarapiqui interacting with the schoolchildren planting trees on the school grounds, and fostering a personal connection through sports and dance. Throughout the program, students learned about the rich culture and heritage of the Costa Rican people. Adventure and eco- activities included ziplining, river rafting, horseback riding, hiking through the rainforest, observing local flora and fauna, and hanging bridge nature walks.
The group also embarked on a magnificent journey visiting three different regions: Arenal Volcano/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Jaco. Upon successful completion of this program, students earned a certification in Sustainable Studies. Going forward to next year’s program, Leave No Trace certification will be an integral component.