Learn more about our partner institution in San Jose, Costa Rica: International Studies for Development Studies (ICDS) through an interview with Yanina Rovinski, who teaches environmental courses at ICDS! You can learn more about our study abroad program in San Jose here: https://www.apistudyabroad.com/programs/costa-rica/san-jose/
1) What have you been working on lately? What do you teach? What is the value – added of your teaching (or course) for international students?
Hi everyone! My name is Yanina Rovinski and I have been teaching an environmental course at ICDS since 2008. I am a journalist and science writer, and worked several years as communications officer for IUCN, the largest and most important environmental organization in the world. I also worked for the Costa Rican Foreign Service and was instrumental in the declaration of Cocos Island Marine Protected Area as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. For the last 15 years, I have been living in the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica and continue to work as a freelance writer, editor and translator for environmental organizations.
My course at ICDS is a participatory experience called Current Environmental Issues. We spend a great deal of our time in class discussing environmental topics featured in the media and selected by the students themselves. Class discussions are usually a lively affair and serve as examples of the concepts illustrated in readings and background materials. We also watch and discuss movies and documentaries, and in general focus on topics of particular interest to the students.
I encourage students to express their passions and opinions, and each course is different to the previous ones as it is based on your own interests, the latest materials published and the most updated information available. Since I continue to work with environmental organizations, I have been able to keep abreast of what is happening in the field and this, combined with the stories and topics brought to class by the students, makes for great opportunities to learn from each other.
2) How does study abroad contribute to responsible global citizenship?
There is no better mind-opening experience than living and studying abroad! Immersion in another culture helps us develop our understanding and tolerance, enriches our own lives and makes us better people. Tasting different foods, speaking a different language, meeting people who are different from ourselves, living (and dancing) at different rhythms, enjoying new and diverse landscapes, playing sports we had never played before, helping others achieve their own goals… to me these are all superb ways of learning how to become a better, more responsible, global citizen.
3) For that purpose, what is the contribution of ICDS?
ICDS provides fantastic opportunities to experience Costa Rica, learn Spanish, meet locals and help others at the same time. As you probably know, this is a country known for its peaceful attitude, its efforts on education, health and other social guarantees, and its immense natural wealth. Living with Costa Rican families is the surest way to approach our culture and create lasting ties. You will feel welcome and pampered, while having to face challenges such as new foods or lack of your usual ones, speaking a different language, learning different family habits while being away from your own. What you learn in class you will then experience on weekend trips and community engagement sessions.
In terms of the environment, this is one of the best places to discover experiences dealing with sustainable development. Costa Rica has committed to protect its nature and its people, and has put into motion many of the newest concepts relating to sustainability. Here you will be able to see both successful and failed experiences, and feel as though you are living in an open-air lab for ideas that other places are still discussing. Far from a perfect example, I think both our country’s successes and failures have a lot to teach… and you can also contribute with your research on “hot” topics and your participation in community programs…
4) Why are ICDS programs an excellent complement to the home college education?
ICDS tailors its programs to provide you with opportunities that you may not have back home. While our academic demands are just as high as your home college’s, our teaching styles differ and our topics are oriented towards Latin American and international issues, thus complementing and enriching your U.S. education. You can experience the “pura vida” style and maybe bring some of its positive features back home.