SUNY Cortland senior Aubrey Martin was one of three students from 1,000 applicants nationwide to win an all-expenses paid trip to Costa Rica. But she won’t spend much time lounging on a beach.
Instead, Aubrey may roll up her sleeves and help rehabilitate a monkey sanctuary.
Or get her hands dirty planting new trees in Costa Rica’s Children’s Eternal Rainforest.
Or, the communication studies major from Newburgh, N.Y., might take part in an intercultural exchange at a local school, do a renovation project on a local village building or caring for endangered turtles.
As an executive member of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), a chapter of which she founded last spring at SUNY Cortland, Martin was eligible to apply for an expense-paid opportunity with a Costa Rican program that gives guests from abroad the opportunity to take part in a wide range of service and adventure experiences.
In late November, Martin learned her essay was chosen out of 1,000 entries to attend the Costa Rica Service and Adventure Program (CSAP) for one week in June.
“Winning this trip is a great way to end my college career,” said Martin, who graduates this month. “I never expected to win an opportunity like this. I plan to take advantage of every opportunity while I am there and give back as much to the Costa Rican community as I can.”
CSAP, which has locations throughout this Central American country, began in the village of La Florida, Costa Rica. CSAP is open to paying individuals and groups of all sizes, including couples, families, schools, religious and spiritual organizations, businesses and more.
In Costa Rica, Martin will engage in several service projects to assist local people and, in her free time, sample the outdoor adventures for which the country is known.
“I have never traveled abroad to a Spanish-speaking country and as a Spanish minor, I believe this will be an amazing experience for me,” Martin said. “I can speak Spanish, so I hope to expand my culture while I am there. Life outside of America is completely different. I want to be able to see the world from a different perspective.”
As a member of the College’s A Cappella singing ensemble, Martin plans to share her gift of music with the local villagers.
Martin was awarded this free trip to Costa Rica along with two executive members from other schools that have a chapter of NSLS.
|Together, a Costa Rican father and child survey the rural landscape.|
The society started with the sole purpose of creating lasting positive change, according to the society’s online site. It began with a handful of chapters and currently has 537,370 members at 490 colleges nationwide. NSLS members complete a series of training events including a leadership training day, speaker broadcasts and community service.
“The society gives students an opportunity to grow and enhance their leadership skills,” said Martin.
She has made many connections with other chapters and traveled to Georgia the past two summers to speak on behalf of the society. She networks with others on ways to improve the organization.
“I’m excited to volunteer with the children in Costa Rica,” Martin said. She plans to create a website about her experience with daily blogs and pictures.
Prepared by public relations intern Jessica McFadden