Muhlenberg in Costa Rica 2019

On May 20th Professors Niesenbaum and Borick return to Las Juntas, Costa Rica with 18 students where they will be conducting community based research and learning. Students will be posting about their experiences here daily. You can also follow updates on our twitter feed @SusSolutions. Feel free to comment and share these student perspectives about the experiences they are having. To learn more about this program and other abroad experiences at Muhlenberg College see this issue of The Muhlenberg Magazine.

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Visiting the Gold Mines & Exploring Community – Morgan Hessel

Emily and Morgan in the Gold Mine

On our first full day in Las Juntas was a long one but we learned a lot about the town and the people.  We started our day off by taking taxis to las minas (the mines).  We then split up into two groups and went through the mines for a tour!  Our tour guide, Bernie was a miner and was able to teach us all about the different levels of the mines as we went in about 200km.  On our way out of the mines, we passed by a natural spring and Bernie explained that there was an old mining tradition behind the spring.  As we each passed by, we had the chance to touch the water and thank god that we were able to get out safely just as the miners do!

After a lunch of rice and beans at Chayito, we all geared up and went for a walking tour around Las Juntas with Carlos and Elieth.  We saw a lot of important locations around the town including the church, the oldest house in the town and a local elementary school.  It was really interesting to see the town from a local’s point of view.  Now that we know where a lot of the cool places are around town, we are excited to continue exploring!

Hasta lugeo familia y amigos

-Morgan Hessel

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Planting Trees for Farming and Carbon Sequestration – Emily Unrue

Yesterday we went to a farm where we helped plant trees to construct a natural fence.

Carrying Cuttings for Planting. Last Years Planting is in the Background

This natural fence is used to reinforce an older barbed wire fence that is already in place to contain animals like horses and cows.  We used cuttings from existing trees and planted them about one foot apart along the existing fence.  It was a hot and sweaty morning, with heavy lifting and lots of digging but our contribution has multiple benefits for the community.  First, the fence will contain the animals on the farm as the old fence begins to deteriorate. Second, planting new trees benefits the environment.  Plants take up carbon from the surroundings and sequester, or hold on to, it.  Carbon sequestration helps decrease the negative effects that excessive carbon has on the climate.  New trees grow rapidly, quickly removing carbon from the ambient environment.  Also, since these newly planted trees are permanent the atmospheric carbon captured will be stored long term.  The sequestration of carbon dioxide and other forms of carbon helps to mitigate or defer global warming.

Planting Cuttings for Live Fence and Carbon Sequestration

After planting over 100 trees along the fence line, I inspired a class dip in the stream.  The water was chilly, but it felt so nice in contrast to the sun-baked fields.  It was great to rinse off the sticky sweat and feel the water rushing by.  At night will split up to have dinner with host families.

Cooling Off in the River After Planting Trees

Riley and Svati Enjoying the River

-Rohita Unrue

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Greetings From Las Juntas – Emily Davidson

Greetings from Las Juntas! After a smooth first international flight experience for me, our class has successfully visited and toured a gold mine and the beautiful town of Las Juntas.

My first impressions of Las Juntas included how developed yet how different it is from the United States. As I tour the town, I have the familiar sights of schools, churches, delicious restaurants, and a gym. As someone who has never traveled internationally before, my “culture shock” consisted mainly of how developed and beautiful this town is, but still distinct from the world I know. The occupations vary extensively, as the people making their living off of goldmining amazed me, while I also met bank tellers when I exchanged currency. Regardless of the differences I’ve encountered, I still feel so comfortable here and so welcomed by all of the friendly and warm dispositions of the people I’ve met. I’ve already made a mental note how imperative it is for me to return to Costa Rica someday.

I’m particularly am excited for starting up our research projects, as I passed the clinic on our tour of the town, and the future trip to Monte Verde. It’s been a wonderful first day and I’m so excited for the rest of this trip.

Sun setting as we approached San Jose by Air

 

Las Juntas Street Scene

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Muhlenberg in Costa Rica 2017

On May 22nd 18 students will accompany Professors Niesenbaum and Gambino to Las Juntas, Costa Rica where they will be conducting community based research and learning.  Students will be posting about their experiences here daily.  You can also follow updates on our twitter feed @SusSolutions.  Feel free to comment and share these student perspectives about the experiences they are having.  To learn more about this program and other abroad experiences at Muhlenberg College see the latest issue of The Muhlenberg Magazine.

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