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Students to study abroad in Costa Rica

Imagine an exotic land far from home with lush tropical rainforests, pristine beaches, fiery active volcanoes, and a vibrant array of cultural experiences.

Many students would love to escape the familiar landscape of East Texas, and through a program offered by the TJC foreign language department, that dream can be a reality this spring.

Project Costa Rica will take 21 travelers on a 10-day journey from May 10 through May 19 to the Central American country. This will be John Hays’, Foreign Language Department Chair, 11th student trip to guide, but it will be his first time taking students to Costa Rica.

Hays has taught Spanish at TJC for 32 years, and has taken 10 student groups to Yucatan, Mexico in the past. He has traveled to several other Central and South American destinations including Belize, Venezuela and Paraguay, where he served for two years as a volunteer with the Peace Corp.

“I wanted this trip to be different than just a tour. It’s a service project as well,” Hays said.

While the details are not yet certain, the trip will include two days of public service working with the people of Costa Rica. On Nov. 23, Hays took a trip to Costa Rica to determine where and what the travelers will be doing to fulfill this portion of the trip.

The remainder of the trip will be spent as tourists, including exploring the country’s tropical cloud forests, visiting the beaches of Costa Rica with an opportunity for surfing and scuba diving, and a hike around Arenal, an active volcano. The trip will conclude in San Jose, the country’s capital, which boasts 15 museums, hundreds of restaurants, and a rich culture and history.

The total cost of the trip is $2,050 plus a mandatory travel and health insurance fee of $108. While this figure might put the trip out of many potential travelers’ reach, there are five $1,000 scholarships, given by the Student Senate, available to help offset the cost. While the trip is open to anyone, the scholarships are exclusively for TJC students.

To apply for one of the scholarships, students must submit a two-page essay describing their educational goals and how they blend with the three promises of TJC – a vibrant student life, a quality education, and community service. The application also requires an official transcript from the registrar, a letter of recommendation from a teacher, and a cover page with name, address and phone number.

The deadline to turn in the $450 deposit to reserve a spot on the trip is Dec. 31. The scholarship application can be submitted any time before Jan. 21, with recipients being notified by Feb. 2.

While the experience will be leisure-filled, the intention of the trip is to educate, not just entertain.

“Globalization is a huge item. We want TJC students to realize they have a part to play in the world, and that we’re a very small piece in this huge puzzle,” Hays said.

For more information contact Hays at (903) 510-2708.

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