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UConn May in Costa Rica: Cultural Identity, Artistic Expression and Human Rights (Faculty-led)

Please note: The dates for this program are May 8 – May 29, 2018

The Program

Cultural Identity, Artistic Expression and Human Rights

During this May session study abroad program, students will consider intersections of national identity, human rights, and the arts in Central America, with a primary focus on Costa Rica. Students will also study Spanish and be involved in a range of excursions that will complement and enhance their coursework.

LLAS 3998/HRTS 3298/SPAN and LLAS 1193 or 3293 (depending on fluency level) will be co-taught by Anne Gebelein of UConn’s El Instituto and Ailyn Morera Ugalde, an internationally known playwright, actor and director. Course ideas will be explored through discussion with guest speakers, field trips, and theatrical movement exercises that Ms. Morera will lead. Students do not have to have any background in Human Rights, Spanish or Latin American Studies to participate in the program; although it is certainly helpful.

Field trips include the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, downtown San Jose and the National Theater, the migrant community of La Carpio, a coffee estate, Manuel Antonio National Park, and the palm farm cooperative Coopesilencio.

The program will be housed at the Intercultura Spanish Language School, and alternates between its two campuses, one in Heredia and one at Samara Beach.

This study abroad program can be counted toward 3 credits of upper division major or minor requirements for Human Rights; up to 6 credits for Latin American Studies; or as related courses for Spanish.

The Academics

Students will be enrolled in two courses during the program, for a total of 6 credits: LLAS 3998/HRTS 3298/SPAN 3293 (3 credits) : Variable Topics: Cultural Identity, Artistic Expression and Human Rights. The course considers how people construct national and cultural identities and how they express and shape them in their storytelling (literature and theater) and their artwork (indigenous crafts, folkloric art). It then explores how that identity influences how people define, rank, and tackle human rights challenges. Lastly, it considers how artistic production influences perspectives on human rights and shape national dialogue around issues of migration, indigenous populations, women’s rights, poverty, and violence.

LLAS/SPAN 1193 or 3293 (3 credits): Foreign Study: Intensive Spanish. This course is a multiple graded-level language course that will allow you to study at your own skill level. You will be tested on your first day at the Intercultura and then placed into one of 18 levels. You will be then assigned a teacher and taught in the communicative method in small classes (maximum 6 students).

Fluent speakers will be placed into LLAS/SPAN 3293, a civilization and culture course on Costa Rican literature and history with a focus on human rights issues.

The Experience

Students will live with host families in the community during their stays at both Intercultura’s Heredia and Samara Beach (Playa Samara) campuses. The colonial city of Heredia is nestled in the mountains of the central valley of Costa Rica. It is home to one of the two national universities, and it is close to the airport and the capital city of San José. Known as the “City of Flowers,” Heredia and its surrounding areas provide the convenience and manageability of a medium-sized city (pop. 75,000). It has managed to retain a typical Latin American “pueblo” feel despite increasing modernization, and students can orient themselves in a day. Heredia is an important cultural center for Costa Rica, and the colonial church and its central plaza are still a favorite meeting place for Heredia’s inhabitants, old and young. Intercultura’s central location within the city gives students easy access on foot to shops, entertainment and transportation. At the same time, the tranquility and natural beauty of the mountains is only a few minutes away by taxi or bus. In the downtown area students are usually no more than a 5 minute walk from a variety of services, including a sports center and Olympic-size swimming pool, Internet cafés, gyms, bars, restaurants, discotheques, the National University’s theatre and grounds, the post office and banks. Playa Samara (Samara Beach) is a small town on the Pacific coast with a protected shoreline. It’s a popular choice for families and travelers to Costa Rica looking to swim and wind surf, and it is also a thriving fishing and farming community. There are unusual plant and animal species, coastal and mountain nature trails, and a variety of restaurants and dance clubs. There are surfboard and horseback riding rentals.

The May session in Costa Rica program will include several pre-departure meetings, and one meeting upon students return. Students will be expected to complete a portion of the course readings before traveling to Costa Rica; final paper will be due after students return to the U.S.

Price tag is estimated to be 4500$, which includes airfare, travel, lodging, 2 meals a day, all field trips, and 6 credits

For more information, please contact the Resident Director, Anne Gebelein, Associate Director of El Instituto.


Dr. Paul B. Goodwin, Jr. Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship
One of the first UConn majors in Latin American Studies, Mr. Bruce Lane remembers how traveling in Argentina impacted and transformed his life. To assist new students in having similar opportunities, Mr. Lane has generously established the Dr. Paul B. Goodwin, Jr. Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship in honor of his mentor, Emeritus Professor of History, Paul Goodwin, Jr. The purpose of the Fund is to support University students participating in Study Abroad programs to Latin American and the Caribbean. For more information contact Anne Gebelein: If a student withdraws from his/her study abroad program after being awarded the scholarship, UConn Education Abroad reserves the right to revoke the scholarship award.

Please note that financial aid, other than certain scholarships, cannot be applied to the cost of this program. Click the link below for this program’s budget sheet.

Budget Sheets:
The Details

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Dates / Deadlines:

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Fact Sheet:

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Open to non-UConn students: Required GPA: