For six Tulane University students — four first-year students and two sophomores — the fall semester didn't begin in New Orleans. It opened for them in Costa Rica, where they are attending the Early International Experience study abroad program.
On a recent trip to San José, Costa Rica, Tulane President Scott Cowen, center, shares a meal with students in the Early International Experience program; Annie Gibson, the professor of practice who leads the program; and other leaders. (Photo by Sole Rodriguez)
The students are spending the fall semester at a Tulane satellite campus known by its Spanish acronym CIAPA
. For decades, this high-level research institution has partnered with Tulane to find solutions to Central America's economic, political and social challenges.
“These remarkable students self-selected to be in the program,” says Ludovico Feoli, executive director of the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research
“Clearly this is for students who have a strong interest in a foreign experience and everything Costa Rica has to offer, with access to a relatively safe environment, where biodiversity and sustainable environmental practices play a crucial role, and the Spanish language, of course — though they have varying experience with it,” Feoli says. “They want to be abroad, to be immersed in a foreign culture, and to develop their language skills.”
Course offerings, which afford them full credit for the semester at Tulane, include Latin American studies, Spanish, introduction to comparative politics, Central American governments, art history and environmental biology. A TIDES
— Tulane InterDisciplinary Experience Seminar class especially for undergraduates — provides field trips to different parts of Costa Rica.
The program at CIAPA is led by Annie Gibson, a professor of practice at Tulane, who has turned over her blog
to the students in the program, so they can write about their experience.
Already, one of her students in the inaugural program is inquiring about continuing studies in Costa Rica during the spring semester.