by Autumn Jones, marketing director
Eighteen students will be traveling to Costa Rica with Señorita Nova Dinsmore in June of 2018 with a company called EF Educational Tours. EF, standing for Education First, is a company built on experiential learning, cultural immersion, and authentic connections. According to the company website, EF was started in 1965 by a Swedish student named Bertil Hult, who lived his life struggling with dyslexia. In 1960, he traveled to London and after only a few short months, he was speaking fluent English, a feat he never thought possible. Hult created EF to allow other students to benefit from learning through travel. As a result, Señorita Dinsmore visited Panama City from Jan. 10-15 to complete required EF training in preparation for the trip to Costa Rica.
In Panama, Señorita met up with fifty other teachers as well as her two travelling partners with whom she flew with from Pittsburgh. Along with the training, Señorita Dinsmore visited a few sites during her trip. She was able to stand right beside the Panama Canal with only a yellow line standing between her and the canal, unlike anything which would ever happen in the United States where there are guards and physical barriers to keep you from getting too close to the edge.
Dinsmore also visited Casco Viejo which translates to “the old horseshoe,” a rebuilt version of the Old City, Panama Viejo, which was attacked by Pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. The walled city is filled with sixteenth and seventeenth century Spanish colonial architecture alongside new, modern architecture. According to cascoviejo.org, it is a “vibrant community, consisting of a sharp contrast of old and new, local and foreign.” Senorita said, “Traveling for me has always left me with inspiration. Casco Viejo was no different: French and Spanish influenced buildings, churches lined with actual gold, and a flower covered walkway overlooking the ocean where artisans can sell their wares. Casco Viejo is both historical and ‘hermosa’[beautiful], plus what in life isn’t better with palm trees!”
Señorita Dinsmore also visited the first city in Panama and went snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea. She even discovered a creature she didn’t know existed before called a Tapir. Tapirs are large herbivorous creatures similar in shape and structure to a pig with a trunk-like snout and weighing in at five hundred pounds. Señorita compared the likelihood of seeing one in Panama to that of a deer in our community. Describing the trip, Señorita said, “It was amazing, probably just because of the cultural differences. It’s nothing like you see in this area on a day-to-day basis.”
With June quickly approaching, Señorita and the students are gearing up for their trip where the students will be learning through cultural experience and being submerged into the language and the people who speak that language. Senorita Dinsmore noted that her excitement for the trip is growing. She said, “Even more so now after being in Panama and being with the company to see how they’ve changed things. I’m especially excited for the students to get out and see things outside of Saegertown.”
On their trip, the students will create many memories and check off many experiences with the schedule that is planned for them. They will be going zip lining and on a boat cruise through the jungle, as well as visiting a coffee plantation, a volcano, and the city of San Jose. To further the experience, the students will also attend a cooking class and experience the authentic foods of Costa Rica. All these encounters will take place with a group of approximately thirty other students from different areas of the United States.
To provide a unique adventure over the seven day trip, the students will be staying in three different hotels in three different cities. One of the hotels will be like a hotel which you would typically stay in here in the United States. Another hotel they will stay in is called a biodiverse hotel, stressing the use of very little water and providing few towels in order to conserve those resources. The final hotel will be a hut by the ocean, putting the students in a smaller individual setting, rather than many rooms in one big building.
This is not the first time Señorita has travelled with students, but she has not done it since she had children of her own. She hopes take a trip like this every other year, with the next one tentatively scheduled for 2020. “I’m very excited to experience everything through the students’ eyes,” Señorita Dinsmore said.
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School