Eagle Valley High School students widen their worldviews

Special to the Daily

Two weeks in a foreign country might not change your life, but it will change the way you think about your life.

A group of Eagle Valley High School students spent 15 days in Costa Rica, where they immersed themselves in Spanish and the country’s culture.

“This is the most beautiful and humbling experience I’ve ever had. I’m so blessed,” said Annika Stough, who graduated from Eagle Valley last weekend.

The trip was split into two segments. The first half of the trip was spent traveling the country, exploring the active volcanoes and hot springs in Arenal, and riding a zip line through the famous Cloud Forest canopy of Monte Verde.

They visited Costa Rican schools and organic farms, and surfed in Manuel Antonio.

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It was not uncommon to see sloths, monkeys, crocodiles, scorpions and the most beautiful bird, the Quetzal, everyday living in their natural habitat, students said in their journal entries.

Everything is different, and different can be good, the students said. The foliage and landscape are different, of course. It’s not unheard of to stick a wooden pole in the ground as a fence post and have it sprout leaves. The buildings are a rainbow of colors.

“Everything here has personality and character,” said Jordyn Leslie, one of the EVHS students on the trip.

As language and cultural barriers came down, the trip became more entertaining, like the time Ella Guzik spilled her breakfast right in front of a waiter in a restaurant.

“They made a joke in Spanish about how nervous I was, thinking I wouldn’t understand, but I did,” Guzik said.

The second half of the trip was more intense, said Catherine Nanin, the Eagle Valley teacher who leads the trip.

Local students spend a week living with a Costa Rican family, something that’s part of every annual trip. This year, it was in the town of Atenas.

“They became part of that host family, calling the family members mom, dad, brother and sister,” Nanin said.

This is also where their use of the Spanish language was tested, by what is euphemistically called “total immersion.” Everything is done in Spanish.

“By the end of their stay, everyone learned so much,” Nanin said. “More importantly, everyone grew as a person and made lasting friendships.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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