By Hafsa Eid
Only one day in and I’m blown away by the hospitality and the beautiful scenery of Costa Rica. I want to start off by giving thanks to Diana, a professor at TEC university, who is coordinating with us on the Indigenous communities of Costa Rica. I also want to give a shout out to the amazing Costa Rican students who despite our language barriers started to develop a relationship that we will continue to build on throughout this experiential learning opportunity.
In the morning we had the privilege of meeting Diana where we had a sharing circle to introduce ourselves. It was really nice to be on the land, feel grounded, and share a little about who we are and our gratitude to learn and listen. After meeting Diana we proceeded to going to the Lankester Botanical Garden where I witnessed the vast biological diversity. It was really interesting to see the different native species of plants that were not Indigenous to Costa Rica. However, that is the case because this garden is a center for Research for the University of Costa Rica, with the goal of preserving the planets bio-diversity to improve people’s quality of life. A really interesting experience at the botanical garden is my encounter with leaf cutter ants who were found all over the garden. It was amazing to see the teamwork and efficiency of the ants in accomplishing a goal. I found this particularly amazing because it allowed me to reflect on the ways in which Indigenous people are tied to their communities and this idea of relationship building for the benefit of all.
After the Botanical Garden we all went to lunch which was superb and very inclusive to the various religious, preferential, and allergies that many of us had. Given the fact that we are in Costa Rica I found it was only right to learn to try to speak as much Spanish as I could learn as a respectful gesture for relationship to the people as well as land. In the restaurant we got to interact more with the Costa Rican students and it was really interesting to learn that many were studying either business, engineering or technology. I want to end it off by saying mucho gracias and I’m looking forward to learning a lot more!
Above: The group at Lankester Botanic Gardens.
Left: UTSC and TEC students share a lunch.