Although the homemade soup served at lunch on a crisp fall day at Marymount of Santa Barbara is a far cry from the food that seventh- and eighth-graders ate while on a trip to Costa Rica recently, the appealing fall meal the students cooked themselves and then lined up to eat is actually all about Costa Rica.
Seventh- and eighth-grade Marymount students did a lot more than have fun on their recent trip to the Central American country of Costa Rica. Yes, the trip was full of adventure that one would hope to experience in a place like Costa Rica — river rafting, hiking, studying rainforest environments, learning about sustainable farming and zip-lining — but it was also an immersion into a new culture.
This was felt most when Marymount students spent time at Escuela El Futuro, a Costa Rican K-6 school located just outside of La Fortuna. Using the Spanish that many Marymount students have taken since kindergarten, the seventh- and eighth-graders got to know their Costa Rican peers. They spent time in their classrooms. They played games together and laughed. They also learned about some of the challenges the students at Escuela El Futuro face.
When Marymount students learned that the school they were visiting had recently received some computers but could not actually use them because of infrastructure issues, Marymount students decided to set their minds to doing what they are known for doing best: solving problems.
Wednesday’s steaming bowls of hot, homemade soup have a simple goal: to raise money to build a fence and finish a building suitable for housing computers at their Costa Rican peers’ school. Marymount students are in a position to know the benefits of the technology they are helping the students at El Futuro to get. Recent iPad pilot programs, multimedia classes and technology enhancements in every classroom are in full swing at Marymount.
Marymount middle school students are determined not to stop their efforts until they have met their goal and numerous small, student-organized fundraisers have happened in the weeks since the seventh- and eighth-graders have returned from Costa Rica as a result. In a larger gesture, the eighth-grade class officially designated their graduating class gift as going toward Escuela El Futuro.
“Marymount has a strong track record of fostering leadership in its students and encouraging them to come up with their own solutions to problems,” said Lyn Shirvanian, head of Marymount’s middle school. “The students’ recent effort came out of our leadership elective and advisories. It is wonderful because not only are the students doing something good for others and thinking beyond themselves, but they are exhibiting and using 21st century skills like cross-cultural understanding, collaboration and creative problem solving in the process. An experience like this and the continuity of the connection that our students made while in Costa Rica makes the trip even more valuable for Marymount students.”
Marymount is an independent coeducational school, junior kindergarten through eighth grade, on a picturesque 10-acre campus nestled on the Santa Barbara Riviera. Building on a 75-year tradition of excellence, the educators at Marymount have crafted a unique learning experience that blends mastery of core subjects with acquisition of the essential skills students need to navigate and be successful in a rapidly evolving world.
— Molly Seguel is director of admissions for Marymount of Santa Barbara.