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  • Locations: Cahuita, Costa Rica; San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Spring Break
  • Restrictions: Memphis applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Break 2021 11/01/2020 11/13/2020 TBA TBA
Program Description:
Honors Spring Break in Costa Rica

Global Issues, Culture, and Local Community Engagement 

San Jose & Cahuita

March 7 - 15, 2020 (Spring Break)

Service Project
Program Overview: Focusing on cultural immersion and with close collaboration with the local community, Honors students will work to participate in various service projects and cultural activities in Costa Rica. 
Program Location: Students will spend two nights in the capital city of San Jose and six nights in Cahuita. Cahuita is a small town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica with just over one thousand inhabitants.

Program Leaders: The program will be led by Dr. Diana Ruggiero, Associate Professor of Spanish and Jonathan Holland, Assistant Director of the Helen Hardin Honors College

Passport: It is highly recommended students apply for their passport now. The typical processing time for a passport is 4 - 6 weeks. Please visit the US Department of State website to get started >

Program Fee: $2,950 (Subject to change)
Program Fee Includes: Program Fee Does Not Include:
  • $350 application fee
  • Shared accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner daily
  • Round trip airfare
  • Excursions & cultural activities
  • Lunch daily ($8 per day)
  • International medical insurance ($45 - $80)
  • Optional excursions
  • Personal expenses & incidentals
*Please note: We reserve the right to cancel or make changes to the itinerary.
Scholarships: Students should apply for the UofM Study Abroad Scholarship by November 1st. Watch the following short video on how to apply.

Presidential Scholarship: Students who currently receive the Cecil C. Humphrey’s Presidential Scholarship can claim a $1,000 study abroad stipend. 

Course: Participants will enroll in UNHP 4901 - Special Topics in Honors (3 credits) for the Spring 2020 semester. The theme of the course is global issues, culture, and local community engagement. Students will attend class during the spring semester 1st part of the term to prepare for the international experience. Dr. Ruggiero will teach and lead the course. She is originally from Buenos Aires and speaks both English and Spanish.

Students will focus on four areas of study: 
  • Service Learning in a Global Context
  • Service Learning and Costa Rica: History and Culture Rooted in Service
  • Service Learning Project Preparation
  • On-site Costa Rica Service-learning Project
Course Objectives:
  • Students to become “mindful” travelers
  • Learn and practice skills of cross-cultural communication
  • Learn and apply the tools of rapid/participatory communication in a community service partnership
  • Use the principles of cultural sensitivity to interact with locals
  • Become engaged learners by working collaboratively with community partners on projects that meet the needs of local residents. 
Please note: This course does not count towards any Spanish Language course, as the course is taught in English. No Spanish knowledge is required to apply to this program.

Service Learning: Focusing on service-learning on sustainability and community development, Honors College Students will be given the opportunity to work on five service projects (see below).
1. Cahuita National Park: Work with naturalist guides to clean up beaches, install garbage containers, perform trail maintenance, and paint ranger stations.

2. Cahuita Elementary School: Tutor elementary students for 30 minutes per day. Additionally, work with the school’s community garden, recycling center, and arts and crafts classes.

3. Cahuita Murals & Paintings: Work with local artists to paint murals portraying educational messages, and messages of positivity, self-esteem, respect, and love for one another.

4. Caribbean Cultural Center: Work alongside local artisans to learn how to make natural cosmetics, cultivate medicinal plants, make natural artisan jewelry, learn traditional music and dance, and participate in Caribbean cooking classes.

5. Cahuita Community Fruit Tree Planting Service Project: Work with local students and naturalist guides to plant various fruit trees throughout Cahuita.

Service LearningCultural Activities: Students will participate in various cultural activities, including a traditional Caribbean cooking class, introduction to local dance and music, visit Cahuita National Park, naturalist walking tour, and visit the Bribri Indigenous Community Center (chocolate making, artisan jewelry, etc.) and more.

Flight: All students will fly round-trip on a group flight from Memphis to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Housing: Students will live in shared hotel rooms (2-3 students per room). The hotel in Cahuita is located near the entrance of Cahuita National Park.

Scholarships: Students who wish to apply for a UofM Study Abroad Scholarship for this program must apply to the Spring break 2020 Scholarship application. The deadline to complete the scholarship application is November 1st, 2019. 

Cecil C. Humphrey’s Presidential Scholarship: The University of Memphis awards a $1,000 study abroad stipend to recipients of the Cecil C. Humphreys Merit, Presidential, and Herff Scholarship. For more information on how to claim this stipend, please contact the Scholarship Office at or 901.678.3213 or visit the Scholarship Office located on the second floor of Wilder Tower
Day Activities Location
1 • Depart Memphis
• Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica
• Transfer to Accommodations
• Check-In, Relax, & Refresh
• San Jose Walking Tour
• Welcome Dinner & Program Orientation
Memphis, San Jose
2 • Breakfast & Day Briefing
• Transfer to Cahuita–Caribbean Coast
• Check-In, Town Orientation, & Discussions on Projects & the Community
• Cahuita Welcome Lunch
• Playa Negra
• Traditional Caribbean Cooking Class
San Jose, Cahuita
3 • Breakfast & Day Briefing
• Cahuita National Park Naturalist Wildlife Tour
• Cahuita National Park Service Projects
• Lunch Break (Meal not included)
• Elementary School Service Project
• Community Garden Service Project
• Group Dinner & Discussions
• Introduction to Local Dance & Calypso Music
4 • Breakfast & Day Briefing
• Surfing Lessons
• Lunch Break (Meal not included)
• Elementary School Service Project
• Community Recycling Center Service Project
• Free Time & Cultural Immersion
• Group Dinner & Discussions
• Nocturnal Wildlife Tour Hike
5 • Breakfast & Day Briefing
• Bribri Indigenous Community Visit: Medicinal Plants, Traditions, & Chocolate Making
• Traditional Bribri Group Lunch & Bribri Waterfall
• Return to Cahuita
• Elementary School Service Project
• Group Dinner & Discussions
6 • Breakfast & Day Briefing
• Cahuita National Park Coral Reef Snorkeling
• Lunch Break (Meal not included)
• Community Painting & Murals Service Project
• Farmers Market
• Group Dinner & Discussions
• Caribbean Cultural Center: Natural Products, Medicinal Plants, & Artisan Jewelry
7 • Breakfast & Day Briefing
• Trash Heroes Beach Cleanup Service Project
• Lunch Break (Meal not included)
• Elementary School Service Project
• Community Fruit Tree Planting Service Project
• Group Dinner & Caribbean Farewell Party
8 • Breakfast & Day Briefing
• Transfer to San Jose
• Local Crafts Market
• Farewell Dinner & Program Closing
Cahuita, San Jose
9 • Breakfast & Day Briefing
• Depart San Jose for Memphis
San Jose, Memphis
Contact Information: To learn more, contact Dr. Ruggiero at or Jonathan Holland at

Pacuare RiverSunset
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