At the start of their summer break, 10 students helped renovate and repair the local school in a small town in Costa Rica.
Meaghan Haugh

Instead of returning home after the spring semester like most of their peers, 10 Rider students participated in a unique service trip to Calle Vargas, a small farming town located on the side of a volcano in Costa Rica.

There, from May 16 to May 22, the students help renovate and repair the local school in order to provide a safer space for the children of the town. They painted the outside of the school buildings, built a playground and planted a vegetable garden. The students also worked in the classroom with primary school students with a focus on basic English and computer skills.

The trip, which has been held for the past couple of years, was coordinated with Peace Works, a non-profit organization. Dr. E. Todd Weber, the trip’s faculty adviser and associate professor of Biology and Behavioral Neuroscience, said the students are responsible for paying for travel, room and board.

“It’s great to see students from Rider experience other cultures,” said Weber, adding that it was rewarding to see the community’s reactions to their hard work. “On the last day of the trip, I had downloaded the photos that I took and show them in a slideshow on a projector. The school children were oo-ing and ah-ing and clapping. They were excited to see themselves in the photos.”

In addition to the service project, the students had a chance to visit a dairy farm and national park, and go whitewater rafting.

Since Samantha McKay of Landing, N.J., a junior Accounting major, traveled to China in 2010 during a spring break tour, she has made sure to take every opportunity to travel to new places.

“This one, being a service trip, I didn't receive credits, and it was a completely different experience because we didn't stay in hotels and we weren’t simply being tourists,” We were there to make a difference to the community, and it was rewarding in a different way.”

For Holly Barr of Lumberton, N.J., a junior Elementary Education and Spanish dual major, this was her first time abroad.

“I learned that I love working with all age groups and I love to travel,” Barr said. “Being a Spanish and Education major, I would love to combine the two and travel to foreign countries to teach in underprivileged areas.”

The rest of the participating students included Jessica Cheverez of Ewing, N.J., a senior Liberal Studies major; Allyson Cook of Nesconset, N.Y., a senior Secondary Education and English dual major; Angelica Decicco of South River, N.J., a junior Secondary Education and Psychology dual major; Stefanie Holman of Fort Lee, N.J., a junior Elementary Education and Psychology dual major; Michael Lubeck of Brick, N.J., a sophomore Economics major; Michelle Register of Plainsboro, N.J., a junior Accounting and Finance dual major; Kelsey Rider of Wethersfield, Conn., a sophomore Elementary Education and Psychology dual major; and Gabriella Roman of Monmouth Junction, N.J., a junior Entrepreneurial Studies major.


Click on the photo gallery on the right for a sampling of snapshots taken by Dr. Weber.