Denison University is no stranger to the gem that is Costa Rica!
After enlightening experiences in the past with Costa Rica Soccer Tours, the university returned yet again with their current Global Soccer class, where students study soccer culture around the world. They came to learn specifically about how soccer has shaped Costa Rica’s history and experience the local culture.
For their first full day, the class went to the farmer’s market in Zapote, where the Denison students had all kinds of fruits they’ve never seen before. The class still embraced the experience and jumped right in!
“I didn’t feel like a tourist, which helped me to feel more immersed into the culture” Gillian Spivak (Student)
The First Lecture
After the farmer’s market, everyone head to the national stadium and took advantage of the beautiful photo opportunities. Back at the hotel, they had their first lecture with Diego Brenes. Students learned about the national player development system, how the soccer organization works in professional leagues at the national level, and the scouting system.
After a jam packed day, the students still had a professional match to enjoy! It was Saprissa vs. Heredia, and the entire class loved soaking in the competitive soccer culture. This served as a great learning opportunity for the students.
“Soccer in Costa Rica is not just a game, it is a lifestyle. It lasts way more than 90 minutes” Alswell Tulasi (Student)
Experiencing Costa Rica
For Day 3, the itinerary was a little more relaxed. The next lecturer, Mariela, gave the an introduction to Costa Rican history and way of life. She talked about the economy, education and health system with room for discussion.
Then, the Denison group got to walk though San José downtown and learn a bit more about the capital of Costa Rica. They also got to take the coffee plantation tour! The coffee tour served as a great starting point for their discussion later in the day about how coffee is a staple to Costa Rica’s economic trade.
Completing Community Service
Day 4 was when the class got to complete their community service with kids from a Bible Home. There are 8 homes with 8-10 kids each – all who have been taken away from their families temporarily. The students played some ice breakers with the kids before jumping into some outdoor games and arts and crafts. It served as an emotional moment for many of the students.
“One of the kids came right up to me and hugged me when we met. We stayed close and talked throughout the day. When it was time to leave, he gave me a letter. His name was Francis.” Matthew Bartlett (Student)
The group got to visit some of the houses and talk to the substitute mothers and learn about the kids’ lives and their routines. The service wrapped up with a short maintenance job which improved the outdoor areas of the kids’ homes.
Enjoying A Friendly Match
To end the day, the students had a little training and a friendly match against a mixed team of University of Costa Rica and Universidad Técnica Nacional soccer players. Denison lost 3-2, but they were really happy to bond a little bit with locals. Gillian Spivak, one of the students, expressed her excitement: “It was really great. I liked how there was competition. But also, room to have fun.”
For the rest of their time, the students continued to dive into everything Costa Rica had to offer. They toured the Costa Rican Soccer Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) where national teams train before their official matches, explored local monuments, and even played a short game on the professional beach soccer field. It was not only an educational experience for the class, but an eye-opening and enjoyable one.
Within the short span of a week, we loved watching the students grow and bond!