Leah Kook

International Experience Country:
Costa Rica
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Thiel College

Heinz Programming Area:
Arts and Culture
International Experience Summary:

Leah Kook spent five weeks in San Jose, Costa Rica, the capital city of a beautiful tropical country located in Central America. She lived in a homestay with a Costa Rican mother, father, their two daughters, and two other American girls. She attended classes at Veritás University in San Jose, an art school bursting with local talent in architecture and design. There she took an intensive Spanish class and a cultural photography course, which included trips on foot through the capital city to study the social aspects of Latin Americans. During the time she was in-country, a famous annual pilgrimage took place, and thousands of Costa Ricans traveled on foot to the Basilica de Los Angeles, which was the site of several religious miracles in years past. She was able to witness these people crawling on their knees with adoration once they reached the large and beautiful church. On days off, she was able to appreciate the lovely natural elements of the country. Costa Rica is filled with butterfly forests, live volcanoes, and fresh rainforest waterfalls, all of which are both awe-inspiring and educational. Costa Ricans intend to preserve their natural forests for many years to come, and by spending five weeks in San Jose, Leah learned ways to be greener, including how to conserve water and energy, for the benefit of all. Also, Leah’s study abroad program, International Studies Abroad, gave her several opportunities to visit the different provinces of Costa Rica, including Guanacaste, which celebrated its annexation to Costa Rica during Leah’s third week in the county. Leah learned about the foods and traditions Costa Ricans use to celebrate special events, much to her delight.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Mini Boot Camp

Leah assisted in the creation of Thiel’s first Mini Boot Camp, a two-part event that raised awareness for men and women currently serving in the Marines. The first part of the event entitled “Movies for Marines” was a collection of more than one hundred DVDs donated by local community members and Thiel students.  The second part of the event was the “Mini Boot Camp.” During this three-hour event, members of the U.S. Marines Corps conducted a Combat Fitness Test in the Rissell-Schreyer Dome at Thiel College. The combat fitness test challenged each participant’s strength, endurance, and speed which provided them with a glimpse of Marine training. At the end of the event, the Marines were presented with the DVD donations.