Costa Rican friends


Shreya Ramachandran

Costa Rican visitors share dances in cultural exchange.

Shreya Ramachandran, Reporter, Photographer

On Thursday, January 24, 14 visitors from Costa Rica, otherwise known as Ticos, entered into our Spanish classes for a cultural interchange. They spent the entire day with our students, having previously prepared presentations about Costa Rican culture, sports, geography, plants and animals, and slang.

This proved a powerful experience for me. Not only did I get to meet these visitors in my 9:00 am AP Spanish class, I also escorted the Ticos all day.  These students were on a reverse mission trip to my church, Grace Church.

In the summer of 2017, I traveled to Costa Rica to visit their church on a mission trip identical to their journey here. While there, I went into English classes in various schools to share about American Culture.

It was one of the most important educational opportunities I have had.  I was once in their shoes, unfamiliar with a culture, and this came full circle when the Ticos came here to experience  the newness of Central Illinois.

Students, such as junior Bridget Poole, were impacted by this cross-cultural endeavor,

“They gave us presentations about their culture, sports, and native animals,” Poole said. “Then they split up and we got to talk to them to learn about their individual life. Sebastian showed us a picture of his family and talked through his childhood.”

Shreya Ramachandran
Sebas shares his personal photo album with juniors Bridget Poole and Courtney Kowalski.

Poole described Sebastian Rivera Sanchez as fun and exciting, especially when he joined the game of dodgeball in her P.E. class.

Not only were U-High students impacted by this experience, but the Ticos as well. Ernesto Gómez, who gave the culture talk about Costa Rican slang, also known as Costaricanismos, said he learned a lot.

“I like to teach others about our culture and the ways that we communicate,” Gomez said. Some of the slang words he shared with his American audience included pura vida, an expression of contentment, and estoy limpio, which roughly translates to “I’m broke.”  Gomez’s comical style charmed every class, and the students’ spanish skills were tested with a game of telephone. Most often the Costaricanismos morphed into new words by the end of the line.

Shreya Ramachandran
Students put their newly acquired Spanish slang skills to the test with a game of telephone.

Rubén López gave this generous evaluation of students’ Spanish skills: “Your spanish is of a good level” and “can improve more.” David Quesada, one of the adult leaders on the trip, shared that he would “always remember the love and companionship here.”

Shreya Ramachandran
Profesora Sandy’s Spanish IV class says farewell to the Costa Rican visitors.