A Level and IB Students Embark on a Journey of Discovery in Costa Rica - Bridgwater & Taunton College

A group of high-achieving A Level and International Baccalaureate (IB) students have just returned from a once in a lifetime, 15-day trip to Costa Rica, offering a unique opportunity for hands-on learning and personal growth. This exciting opportunity was designed to enhance the students’ understanding of environmental conservation, sustainable development, and cultural diversity.

The trip was funded by The Turing Scheme, a programme which aims to widen opportunity for young people to learn and travel abroad. During the trip, students took part in a range of activities, including wildlife observation, eco-tourism, and community service projects. The students enjoyed a first week staying with host families and staff of IB School, The Lighthouse International School, enjoying an immersive opportunity to interact with this local community and gain a deeper understanding of the culture’s history and culture. Following this, they adventured across the country, staying at a range of locations to be able to further appreciate the wildlife, habitats, and culture of the country.

Bex Turner, Curriculum Manager for IB and Access said,

We are thrilled to offer this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to our students. The mobility to Costa Rica our students with a unique perspective on environmental conservation, sustainable development, and cultural diversity. We believe this experience will have a profound impact on their future, both personally and professionally.

Lucy Watson, Curriculum Manager for A Levels, summarised the trip:

The students had the most wonderful and diverse experience across the 16 days. The first 6 days was spent with host families and the Lighthouse International School in San Jose. This immersed the group fully into Costa Rican culture and they have made strong links with the families and students that will last way beyond the trip. Students participated in lessons, BTC staff delivered lessons and students also spent time doing some voluntary activities around the school as part of the CAS element of the IB programme. This included reading to younger students, making some goods to donate to an old people’s home and painting around the school grounds. We also had dance classes and learnt about the culture. 

Then, we stayed and volunteered for 2 days at the Pacuare Nature Reserve. This was a completely unique experience. We lived in basic accommodation without wifi or electricity whilst helping to prepare areas for turtle hatchlings and learnt about the incredibly important conservation projects the reserve runs. This has left a lasting impact on the group.

The rest of the time was spent exploring the incredibly beautiful natural wonders the country has to offer. We visited the Poas and Arenal volcanoes, bathed in hot springs, trekked (and zip wired) through the rainforest, visited both the Caribbean and Pacific coast whilst spotting a hugely diverse range of wildlife. We finished off by planting trees to offset our carbon footprints and contribute to an afforestation programme to rebuild habitat for the scarlet macaw.

Overall this was an incredible experience that has given the group memories that will last a lifetime!  

The trip is part of the school’s ongoing commitment to providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in the 21st century. The International Baccalaureate and A Level programmes at BTC are encouraging a culture of exploration, creativity, and innovation, and the Costa Rica trip is an excellent example of this commitment in action.

Madison Bouchta, an IB Year 1 student said,

The trip to Costa Rica has been the most exciting, eye-opening and inspiring opportunity I’ve ever experienced. Everyday was jam-packed with activities and experiences and special moments. We were graciously welcomed into the homes of families from the Lighthouse International School, and introduced into Costa Rican culture – through cuisine, dancing and trips to the Museum, Theatre and national monuments. I know I’ve made friends for life overseas, and become closer by living with those from college.

The second week was a tourists’ dream; we saw two volcanos, went to a hot springs and a waterfall. We also stayed in the Pacuare Reserve (in the rainforest, on the edge of a stunning beach!) contributing to the amazing work they do to help turtle hatching – which was so fulfilling to know we were making a difference to environmental issues caused by humans. Overall, I know I have made memories to last a lifetime, widened my horizons and now have an undeniable hunger to explore the rest of the world! Thank you so much Lucy, Sandra, Tegan and Steve for being so amazingly full of aid, for always checking in with me, and for being kind and caring throughout, thank you Fiorella for being the best host mum ever, and thank you Bex for coordinating the most incredible trip of a lifetime! I am forever grateful.

If you would like to know more about studying the International Baccalaureate or A Levels at BTC visit www.btc.ac.uk or call Information & Advice on 01278 441234 for more information

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