Phylicia Patterson

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

University of Pittsburgh | Bradford

Heinz Programming Area:
International Experience Summary:

Phylicia Patterson focused on two areas during her five weeks in San Jose, Costa Rica. She volunteered at a day care center and she engaged in a research project about Costa Rica’s different types of ecosystems. The day care center that Phylicia volunteered at was a center for underprivileged children. There were children there from the ages of eleven months to fifteen years old. Phylicia spent time doing arts and crafts with the younger children, and helped teach the older kids their numbers and letters in English. This was a great situation for Phylicia because she was just learning how to speak Spanish and she was able to practice with the children. The thing Phylicia enjoyed the most about working with the children was seeing the smiles on their faces when she gave them a piece of candy or said a Spanish word the wrong way which would make them laugh. Phylicia also enjoyed the environmental aspect that was incorporated into her class time. Phylicia’s tropical ecology professor was involved in a crocodile research project, which Phylicia was allowed to take part in. The interesting thing about this research was that the crocodiles they were studying were in a completely abnormal ecosystem than they are known to survive in. Phylicia spent a weekend learning about different tactics to track and tag crocodiles. Phylicia was exposed to the Costa Rican culture in many ways. She lived with a home stay family for five weeks, which allowed her to really practice her Spanish speaking and listening skills, and she was fully immersed into the cultural foods that Costa Ricans ate. She even tried cow tongue! Phylicia’s international school also provided activities that allowed students to immerse themselves into the culture. Phylicia really enjoyed learning how to dance salsa and maranga. The school also put on a fiesta for the international students which showed how the Costa Rican culture celebrated: they dress up, use loud music and instruments, and dance! On the weekends, Phylicia was able to travel along the coasts of Costa Rica and engage in opportunities such as bungee jumping, zip-lining, and snorkeling. Phylicia also took the opportunity to visit Cartago which is the nation’s church that celebrates the day of the Virgin of the Angels. Phylicia immersed herself into the culture by taking advantage of every opportunity to learn something new in Costa Rica. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: Conservation Lessons and Actions with Elementary School Students