SELAL: July 2018


This July students took advantage of their two weeks of vacation to improve their English, meet local entrepreneurs, and foster a deeper appreciation for their communities during SELAL. It was the third time we ran the program in Uvita and the seventh in Puerto Jiménez. Participants in Uvita are in 9th or 10th grade, while in Puerto Jiménez they are in 10th- 12th grade. Since its inception over 100 students have participated in the program.

Each morning began with an English lesson with a focus on students becoming comfortable speaking while recognizing and accepting the importance of making mistakes. After English, students received lectures and workshops from community leaders and made visits to their businesses. Local coordinators Ericka Sibaja in Uvita and Arlet Quirós Calvo in Puerto Jiménez took the lead on organizing July’s program. In addition to building on January’s SELAL program themes of leadership, teamwork, and other vital skills for entering the work force, July’s programming focused on local conservation efforts and their environmental impacts. Through all of the activities, students were able to gain new knowledge as well as expand their social networks to include community leaders. Over 10 days, the groups in each location worked with and learned from nearly 20 community partners, including eco-lodges that pride themselves on hospitality and environmental sustainability, biologists who monitor wild cat activity, to residents who created a new recycling project in town, and an architect who designs for minimal energy use.

For the first time, SELAL in Puerto Jiménez welcomed participants from the night section of the high school, an older group of students actively seeking employment. In a post-program interview, one such student stated his newfound desire to stay in and contribute to his community. Before SELAL—and before becoming aware of the myriad opportunities available—he thought he would only find success by leaving Puerto Jiménez for San Jose. Not only has SELAL helped him realize his prospects, he believes it will help him find the job he wants. SELAL’s name is spreading. As of January 2018, the hiring coordinator at the National Geographic recognized eco-lodge, Lapa Rios, will only hire interns who have participated in SELAL. 

After January’s program in Uvita, participants continued to meet twice a month to interact with community members, participate in service activities, go on field trips, and continue to practice their English skills.  Students in Puerto Jiménez are planning an activity for August and are motivated to find ways to serve the community. We look forward to seeing what they do!

INOGO Regional Coordinator, Travis Bays, organizes a bi-monthly “Surf and Service” in Uvita/Bahia Ballena. SELAL students helped with the beach clean-up, learned to surf, and represented the program. They had a great time.


Students from the Uvita program organized and led an afternoon of community service and games/activities with children from Forjando Alas, a local organization that works with at-risk children in the area. American high  school students from Global Leadership Adventures also participated. Here they are playing ice-breaker games!


Puerto Jiménez students spent a Saturday at Osa Conservation, a nonprofit focused on protecting Osa's biodiversity. The day began with a tour of the sea turtle conservation program and ended with a walk through primary rainforest.


During an English lesson in Puerto Jiménez, students created their own tourism companies, designed brochures, and presented their work to the rest of the group.