Service Trip to Costa Rica Marks First Alternative Winter Break

As the new school year gets back into gear, students may find themselves falling back into the same old patterns. Freshmen may be starting to get the hang of college life and upperclassmen may feel trapped by the all-too-familiar halls of Ramapo. For those looking for a change of scenery, the Civic and Community Engagement Center (CCEC) has a solution.

The CCEC will be hosting for the first time an Alternative Winter Break trip to Aranjuez, Costa Rica. Students who attend will work with a macaw sanctuary at El Manantial. The trip will start on Jan. 2 and will run through Jan. 13.

“Basically, what the students have the opportunity to do is work with the animals, but also work with the sanctuary to help out with any kind of needs they have. It’s a cool experience because you get to live on that site for the 11 days,” said senior Brianne Kennedy, CCEC program coordinator.

While at the sanctuary, students will attend to a variety of different responsibilities, which include feeding the animals, maintaining agricultural fields, cleaning the food and water dishes as well as the cages, planting trees in the village and at the local school, painting projects in the local school and developing a program of environmental education for local school kids.

“It’s kind of been a dream of all of ours to have students have the opportunity to do service over winter break. It’s a big long chunk of time and we wanted to engage students who couldn’t go over spring break and let them have the opportunity to do a great amount of service,” Kennedy said.

The trip is packed with community service opportunities, along with other activities including outings to a local beach and a trip to the Cloud Rainforest at Monteverde are included on the itinerary.

"I feel that it is a good program because it is an alternative for students to help make a difference for a good cause, rather than party all day," said freshman Daniel Silverstein

The trip costs $1,300 and covers lodging, meals, transportation and all of the social events mentioned above. Applications are due by Sept. 22, and students will be notified as to their acceptance via email by early October. Applications can be found on the My Ramapo portal on the CCEC’s website. Students with questions about the trip can email or call their office at 201-684-7586.

"For the price, it's worth it. You get to experience a different culture and help out local residents. It would be a great experience for anyone to do,” said freshman Ryan Smith.

The Costa Rica trip is just the beginning for Alternative Winter Breaks; the CCEC hopes to run more trips like this in the future.