by Hailie Pelke
Moving to Costa Rica was a big change for me even though I have lived abroad before, mostly because my Spanish skills are less than desirable. However, I adjusted quickly due to the Ticos’ hospitality and kindness as well as the moral support from my cohort and professors here.
CATIE (The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) in Turrialba, Costa Rica is rather different from UNT. In Costa Rica learning is very hands on and more about implementation an applied science, whereas UNT was more about learning the policies and planning process. I thoroughly enjoy all of the field trips and labs we have gone on here, it takes learning to a whole new level. I am a hands on learner so I have the tendency to struggle in a typical classroom setting. I feel like this program had allowed me to thrive as a student, simply because it is hands on.
For my main research project I will be working with Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), the Costa Rican tourism board, and I will be diving into the sustainability certifications here in Costa Rica and discussing with businesses why or why not they are working towards certifications and whether or not they like the certifications/find them attractive. With this project I had the opportunity to go to Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany this past summer with the Triangle Corporation. While working on this reserach project in Germany I was able to meet with a handful of amazing sustainable companies and organizations and discuss sustainability programs and certifications in Germany and how those programs could be implemented in Costa Rica.