Alternative Spring Break Takes Students to Costa Rica
This year’s Alternative Spring Break will take a group of 20 Penn State Berks students, along with Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk, to Costa Rica where they will spend the week of March 2–9 helping to build a community center for at-risk children. The group will join ProWorld Service in the revitalization project for Fundacion Abraham in the town of Villas de Ayarco, located on the east side of San Jose.
Student volunteers include seniors Verranda Caldwell-Franklin from Coatesville and Chellby Kilheffer from Bethlehem; juniors Alana Augello from Bethlehem, Ashley Burkhart from Robesonia, Kat De-Crescenzo from Roseto, Cara DiPiazza, from Hillsdale, NJ, Amanda Gonzalez-Ortiz from Philadelphia; and Kristen Levan from Allentown; sophomores Lauren Fusco from Gilbertsville, Josh Garcia from Fleetwood, Alexandra Lambert from Denver, Brenna Lauer from Phillipsburg, NJ, Caitlin Miller from Macungie, Jack Pokras from Nazareth, Jamie Richards from West Lawn, Dewilka Simons from Bronx, NY, Cory Smaltz from Newmanstown, and Michael Wearen from Philadelphia; and first-year students Emily Newman from Lititz and Kayla Strenck from Gordonville.
The project was organized by Andrea Pfaff, Assistant Director of Campus Life, who will also join the student group, along with Kelli Meyer, Student Activities Coordinator.
Fundacion Abraham was founded in 1998 by Pastor Jorge Gomez and is managed by the Lighthouse Community Christian Association (LCCA). It operates a home for abandoned children, and recently the foundation built a day care center that serves children ages 6 months to 12 years from homes in the nearby communities. Children assisted by LCCA come from impoverished families where drug abuse, alcoholism, and physical and sexual abuse are common.
Penn State Berks students will help Fundacion Abraham to build a community center, which will include facilities for various professionals such as doctors, dentists, and educators who wish to donate their services to the community.
Specific projects that the students will undertake include preparing cement, painting, and building walls. The group may also have an opportunity to prepare the area for a vegetable garden and to conduct educational activities with the children.
The students will stay in Costa Rica for seven days, five of which they will spend on the construction project. The will stay with host families who will provide room and board for the students and staff members. Staying with the families will give the students an opportunity to learn more about the community and the day care center.
When they are not working on the community center project, the students will have time to explore the region. The plan to visit Irazu Volcano National Park; Lankester Gardens, a University of Costa Rica Center for biological research that protects more than 800 species of orchids, bromeliads, and countless species of other plants; and the scenic Orosi Valley.
Berks students will also have an opportunity to participate in a “Best of the Pacific Beach Tour,” during which they will take a jungle boat to explore the Tarcoles River, and continue to the beautiful resort of Punta Leona with its white sand beaches and 750 hectares of protected areas of transitional rain forests.
During the evenings, the group will participate in a variety of classes on Costa Rican cooking and dance and Spanish, as well as a field trip to a local market.