On May 2-9, 2010, I was one of sthe students from St. Leo University in Florida, U.S.A. to visit Costa Rica for a graduate class in global business management. Our group was led by Dr. Corrine Young and on May 3 we traveled up the winding mountain road to the beautiful UPeace campus. Dr. Amr Abdalla welcomed us with a thought provoking lecture on the history of UPeace and how it was revitalized in the year 2000. The university currently offers ten master’s degree programs in peace and conflict studies.
Dr. Abdalla stated that students who attend the eleven month program experience a transformation regarding peace. The university possesses a special academic uniqueness in peace studies and is comprised of about 200 students around the globe. UPeace is currently expanding student enrollment by taking the initiative to offer classes online.
During our visit, Alonso and Mohit, our UPeace guides gave us a tour of the campus and the UPeace monument. We enjoyed the spectacular views from the scenic grounds as well as the picturesque monument. Afterwards we were inspired by a lecture on The New China given by Dr. Robertson from St. Leo University and treated to a delicious lunch in the campus cafeteria.
The remainder of our week included visits to many local businesses such as Franklin Covey, Tech Data, CINDE, Incae Business School, The Butterfly Farm and Dos Pinos. At the Butterfly Farm, I was pleased to meet 26 year old Anne Nicole De Koning (Nicky) who is from the Netherlands but recently moved to Costa Rica. She is using her business and tourism degree to start a sustainable tourism business with her father in Costa Rica.
I was very impressed by the organization and cleanliness of the Dos Pinos factory we visited. This company is the leading producer of milk and diary products in Costa Rica. Our host was most gracious and even gave us free ice cream and a goodie bag to take home.
The highlight of the week was on May 7 when Alonso took us to Manuel Antonio National Park. On our guided tour, we were amazed to see sloths, monkeys, bats, birds, lizards, and other fascinating wildlife. Afterwards, we relaxed on the magnificent beach in the park and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Our group welcomed the soft sand on our feet and a swim in the clear blue water. I was surprised to see the huge lizards walking on the beach. We even had to chase away a brave raccoon who tried to steal some food from a backpack.
That evening our group dined at a restaurant on the top of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Coast. We were in awe of the spectacular sunset and spotted a sloth directly below us sleeping in a tree. Our group from St. Leo University was most impressed with UPeace and the international business experience they provided to us in Costa Rica. I made friends with great people that I will always remember and cherish when I reminisce of my visit to Costa Rica.