Alternative Spring Break

Alajuela, Costa Rica – Global good, Global health

The goal of this global health-focused experience is to learn about local healthcare challenges, experience Costa Rican culture, and gain perspective on the global wellness landscape. You will learn how to calculate BMI, while working with community partners to promote healthy habits. You will have the opportunity to visit primary schools, create a hydroponic garden with the children, and help with physical education activities. In the evenings, ISL will provide information sessions on common tropical diseases, natural medicine and local nutrition, and folkloric/Latin dances. You will conclude your week with a visit to Jaco Beach and be provided with an option to try some well known Costa Rican Ziplines.

UN Sustainable Development Goal 3- Good Health and Well-being

UN Sustainable Development Goal 10 - Reduced Inequalities

UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 - Sustainable Cities and communities




Community Partners

International Service Learning

Dates of Travel

Sunday, February 17, 2019 – Sunday, February 24, 2019 

Participant Numbers

  • 15 Student Participants
  • 1 Student Team Leader
  • 2 Team Leaders


  • Learn about the public health system in Costa Rica, and explore ways they are working on eradicating some common diseases
  • Interact with local Costa Rican families, while promoting healthy living practices
  • Travel to the Central Valley and visit Jaco Beach, while exploring a variety of Costa Rica’s wildlife
  • Enjoy swinging through the tropical jungle on a zip line (additional cost)

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the Alternative Spring Break 2018 program, students participating in this experience will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to explore ideas, issues, and global systems from viewpoints other than their own, through reflective practice, group discussions and program activities
  • Work under conditions of ambiguity or uncertainty by engaging with community partners, community members and working as a team
  • Demonstrate an understanding of intercultural competence, sensitivity and humility by completing pre-departure workshops, activities in OWL and the ASB Reflective Practice Workbook, and engaging in the 1-2 week community-based experience
  • Identify and describe specific and broad examples of social determinants of health
  • Define the impact of various measures of wellbeing within the community
  • Recognize the limitations of their own knowledge and abilities

Ideal Participant

Your team will be exposed to a true local Costa Rican experience. The ideal participant loves learning about new cultures, and has a well-rounded perception of healthy activities and a healthy lifestyle. Ideal participants are flexible, reliable, and committed to learning. During this experience, you will be challenged to lean into your discomfort, and go with the flow.


Total cost (subject to change) – $3,400 CAD

Costs include:

  • Flight
  • Registration and programs fees with International Service Learning
  • Contribution to the project and comprehensive on-site support
  • Insurance (health, flight cancellation, baggage)
  • Transportation to/from airport
  • Transportation in Costa Rica
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Administrative Fee (t shirt, team leader contribution, journal)

Note: ASB participants will be responsible for any luggage costs assigned by individual airlines, airport tax, souvenirs, or additional food/snacks during the trip.

Preliminary Itinerary

Day 1-2 (Orientation): You will arrive, have some time to settle in and explore downtown Alajuela, and be introduced to our partners from ISL, who will lead you through professional orientation and teach you how to calculate BMI.

Day 3-5 (Community Visits): These days will be spent visiting community sports centres, soup kitchen and schools to distribute health promotions, calculate BMI, and understand the complexities of poverty in Costa Rica.

Day 6-7 (Health Fair): You will work with ISL in hosting a community health fair where you will distribute important educational handouts on the prevention of common diseases. The timing of this fair is important as it takes place just before the rainy season starts. It is important to eliminate all possible areas around a home where water can be contained and mosquitos can grow. In addition to this, you will work in partnership with the Women’s Community House.

Day 8 (Recreation): You will conclude your adventure enjoying the Costa Rican beach, and you will be provided with an opportunity to zip line through the tropical jungle.

PLEASE NOTE: Itinerary is draft, and subject to change at any point in time.


You will call Cada de Espiritualidad Franciscana home for your 8-day experience, and this is a local guesthouse in Alajuela just outside of San Jose.


Meals are prepared in-house by ISL staff or at approved local restaurants and reflect a variety of local foods (rice, beans, chicken, tortillas, plantains, etc.) Students with specific dietary restrictions may wish to bring supplementary snacks.

Need to Know

This experience does not involve travel through the USA.

You are responsible for ensuring that you have the required travel documents and travel visas necessary to participate in the experience.

If you require disability related accommodation, or have other special considerations, we encourage you to contact us before applying. We may require further information to determine how we can best meet your accommodation needs.