Costa Rica Nestled in the jungles of central america, amidst rolling mountains, blankets of cloud forest, and a culture of sustainable living that brings more than one kind of life to the country and its people, becoming a greener, second home to desert-dwelling students at New Mexico State University. Students enrolled full-time at the university can take flight to Costa Rica through faculty-driven initiatives like the Global Citizens Project. Operating with the support of Aggies Go Global the project inspires and equips NMSU undergraduate students to become Global Citizen Leaders. As a scholarship program, it also provides resources to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to have a non-credited, international experience due to constraints in time or finances. After weeks of combining Global Citizenship training, leadership workshops, and practice engaging in the local and global community, students spend eight days immersing themselves in the language, lands, and lifestyles with Costa Rica’s roots-deep devotion o eco-friendly living guiding the experience. While studying intensive Spanish, they volunteer at Life Monteverde a local agricultural and nature conservation organization. Working and exploring the land alongside local communities, Global Citizen Scholars learn not only how their host families and the residents of Monteverde communicate, but what they communicate is most important to them. At the round table discussion, students recall the experience of leaving home and discovering what makes Costa Rica home for its residents. It was just really cool getting to see how the country is different, culturally. You read about them and you talk about them in class, but to experience them with a group of people it was, it was really interesting. I definitely love learning about the sustainability, especially on the farm. They were so happy with little things in the environment. and it was like a big awakening. Living with them and actually getting to experience like hands-on, like a bug would fly in and they are like no, don’t kill it, and I was like, ok (laughter) I know here in the U.S. we live our lives very, very fast paced, everything is do this, do that, and in Costa Rica it was about taking a day at a time, taking it, step by step. But they also had some behaviors that I really would like to follow. They have such a good vision on how to recycle. I didn’t see plastic bags while I was over there. And they also had a very healthy diet. A true exchange, students give their work, trust, and minds to the experience, but come back with as many lasting impressions. It was a pretty good trip. I learned so much. I still talk to my host family. I was still communicating with my Mamathika, she was like, informing me about like, what’s going on about in her life. And I was telling her about my internship, and how summer is going. It served as a source of inspiration, because currently now at my internship, I am writing a proposal to make the company more eco-friendly and sustainable. I am working for the public health building right now. to make it more eco-friendly cause we use a lot of paper so, making it more computer friendly. For me one of the main take-aways has been that, other countries are implementing measures, doing things through legislation, through public policy, to be more sustainable, more environmentally friendly. So, if other countries can doing those things, Why would we not be able to do those same things. I was able to take more leaps in my own life. And I am looking for more opportunities to do things, instead of waiting for things to, like fall into my lap like they used to. I saw, like the need in Costa Rica but I also saw all the good things that they have that we don’t, and so it really empowered me to, how do I fix my country a and how do I fix my community. by like viewing this other world. And so I just kind of want to continue seeing other countries, other cultures and bringing all that back and making our community better. How connected and united their families was, so I decided to do that when I came back, like I decided to see my family more on the weekends, and really make the effort to talk to them, because you really need to enjoy and love your family as much as you can. For more information on either the Global Citizen Project or the Global Student Alliance, contact ACES Global Initiatives and Aggies Go Global Programs Coordinator Dr. Manoj Shukla, or Senior Program Specialist Abby Nayra.