Mason County Students Tour Costa Rica

The Ledger Independent

MAYSVILLE, Ky. (AP) - When Mason County High School student Keegan McGee first learned of an opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with Spanish teacher Sam Caudill and a group of students, the idea captured his interest.

Not only would the trip provide McGee with something to do during the summer, it would offer a cultural experience as well.

With the five other students who also attended, McGee traveled first to San Jose, then visited Arenal, Monte Verde and Quepos. He went horseback riding through the forests of Costa Rica, participated in a canopy tour, visited a school in the Central American country and was exposed to the various forms of wildlife. Students also visited a beach at Manuel Antonio National Park, the country's smallest national park, but one most often frequented by tourists.

"It was fun," said McGee. "The places we went were beautiful."

Though the trip was filled with activities, one activity in particular McGee counted as his favorite. At one location, McGee said students had the opportunity to swim under and around a waterfall.

"(It's) one of those things you never really get to do," he said about the experience.

The visit to a Costa Rican school also stood out in McGee's memory. At the school, students witnessed a few traditional dances. They were also exposed to the differences in the school systems of America and Costa Rica.

"(That) is always very enlightening to them," said Caudill of the visit to the school.

The school had 30 students, and unlike American schools which are divided into grades and classrooms, students were often taught in one room.

While at the school, Caudill said students donated supplies and other items, including soccer balls and Frisbees, to the students, who were excited to receive the gifts. Elementary school students challenged the students to a game of soccer, demonstrating their skill in the sport by defeating their high school opponents.

The trip, which took place June 18-26, was the second planned by Caudill, who has tried to engage students at the high school to learn the Spanish culture.

"I really hope they gained a deeper appreciation for Spanish-speaking cultures," he said.

He now plans to offer the trip every other year to students. It is open to all students, regardless of whether they have been involved in the Spanish program at the high school.

Caudill said he would like to plan a trip to Spain and include other European countries as well.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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