Costa Rican Trip Called ‘Experience of a Lifetime’


Danielle Lippert, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Just 3,710 miles south of Green Bay is the small country of Costa Rica. This past summer, Notre Dame Spanish students had the chance to go visit that country.

On June 5, 29 students, five chaperones and two other family members boarded a plane and headed off to San Jose, Costa Rica. The group then stayed in Alajuela.

Spanish teachers Amy Stover and Caitlin VandenWyngaard had the idea to do another trip after having such a special time in Costa Rica in 2013.

“We and the students had such a wonderful experience that we planned another one for this past June.  It’s a wonderful and unique experience for our students,” said Sra Stover.


One of the unique things the students did was spend six nights with a host family. It’s tough enough visiting a country whose language is not your first, but imagine staying with a family who barely speaks your language.

“It was so incredible,” said Deidre Bellmore, a  junior who went on the trip. “The people are so nice and understanding. They really made my roommate and me feel welcome and comfortable. Even if our Spanish wasn’t fluent, they understood and took their time with us.”

Bellmore also had two host siblings that she spent some time with.

“Our host siblings were adorable and so much fun to be around,” she said.


After staying with their host families, students then stayed in two different hotels as they traveled about the country.

The students and teachers did multiple activities during their ten-day stay in Costa Rica.

“I’d have to say my favorite part of the trip was the service project that we did,” said Sra Stover.

For their service project, every student and chaperone donated $10. They then went to a greenhouse and and bought multiple plants, some sod and a bench. They also went to a hardware store and bought tools.

Everyone then went to a community park and finished off a project that other schools had started. They planted everything and made a path of stones and worn-out tires. The students then painted them.

“It was an awesome opportunity for our students to interact with local community members,” said Sra Stover.


Mr. Daniel Winkler, science teacher at Notre Dame, was one of the chaperones on the trip.

“My favorite part of the trip was experiencing the culture with a great group of people from NDA.  Specifically talking about the conversations from our Spanish language class,” said Mr. Winkler.

Unfortunately, Winkler didn’t have a great time for the whole ten days.

“On Sunday of our trip, I was incredibly ill.  I missed out on some adventures that day while I was having my own personal adventure with trying to keep food down,” he explained.

Overall, everyone had an excellent time on the trip and would go back if they had the opportunity.

Everyone took something special home with them, and it wasn’t a material object. The experience itself was truly an experience of a lifetime.

“It is a humbling experience to step into another’s shoes and share their experiences, even if it is for only a couple of hours,” said Mr. Winkler.