WOOD RIVER — Wood River High School Spanish students experienced the life and culture of Costa Rica during a recent trip.

Fourteen students in a variety of grade levels traveled to the country May 28 and stayed through June 2.

Spanish teacher Deb Rohrich, the trip’s sponsor, said the trip is offered every two years and is open to any Wood River High School student who has taken a Spanish class. She added they had to pay for the trip themselves, but the school hosted a number of fundraisers to help students pay the trip expenses.

Incoming junior Austin Buettner said he wanted to participate in the Costa Rica trip because it provided him with what may be his one of his few opportunities to travel outside the United States. Incoming junior Sage Gideon said she was intrigued by the idea of getting to go to the beach and see the ocean while on the trip.

During the trip, the students were able to participate in activities such as zip lining and seeing the ocean. They were also able to visit a coffee plantation, and a dairy and strawberry farm. Rohrich said students also went to an ox cart factory.

“We went to the ox cart factory where they made carts that actually get pulled by an ox,” she said. “Now, they are mostly decorative and they sell them for that purpose.”

Incoming junior Boston Boucher said she and her peers toured a Costa Rican school where they interacted with school students who did not know English.

“We were able to test our Spanish a little bit,” she said. “It was kind of difficult because of the language barrier. We used a lot of hand movements and stuff.”

Rohrich said the students toured the school and saw what the schools facilities and daily classroom schedule is like. Buettner said the tour opened his eyes to just how different the school is compared to those in the United States and how different the schedules are.

“It was very hot in the school,” he said. “It was different blocks, too, so it wasn’t like this where you can walk to a different room in the same hallway. You had to go outside.”

After touring the school, Rohrich said, the high-schoolers were able to participate in a PE class where the girls played basketball and the boys played soccer.

A number of the students said their favorite thing about the Costa Rica trip was visiting the school.

“I was surprised the students enjoyed that,” Rohrich said. “I thought it was interesting, but I didn’t think it would have the impact on them that it did.”

The students said they were intrigued with how different the stores looked in Costa Rica, compared to those in the United States.

“I was really proud of the students because they did not come to me to get help a lot,” Rohrich said. “They just made their way through the stores and if they wanted to buy something, they figured out how to communicate with people.”

She added this is the best way for students to enhance their understanding of the Spanish language. The students said they feel their Spanish skills have been improved as a result of the Costa Rica trip.

“I figured out that I can make a basic conversation,’ Gideon said. “I don’t think it is necessarily improved, but I can get my point across.”

Rohrich said Wood river High School plans to offer another trip to Costa Rica in 2021. She said the plan is to have the trip every two years.

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