It was my first experience living with a home-stay family.  It showed me the lives of others and their everyday routine in a different country.  It was the key to life lessons that I will carry onward from this experience throughout my lifetime.  I have written significant events that happen to me on my first GEO international internship experience in Costa Rica.  

It almost seems like yesterday, when I first received the keys to my room in my Costa Rica family house.  The interior was different from my first family.  I didn’t think my first time living with families of Costa Rica descendant would be a life lesson in itself.  It tested my limits and called for quick decision making at my first family.  It ignited my passion for family closeness, appreciation of the different personalities that my Costa Rica siblings possessed, and my mother and father’s role in the household at my second family.  As I entered my room, the ceiling was lined with golden colour trimmings.  The fabric clothed closet didn’t have any other peoples’ belongings, the nightstand had an Alaskan sunset cloth fabricated over it, and the bed was just right.  I felt at peace.  Claro! I would lock myself out of my room with the keys inside on my first day with them.  The first family had a second set of keys, but my second family, they had a machete.  The machete helped unlock the latch of the door after going through a pile of extra keys that didn’t fit the keyhole.  My brother and father laughed at this and I did too.  My time in Costa Rica with my Costa Rica families allowed me to practice my Spanish, opened the doors to the lives of a different culture, and the charm that the country possessed.  Last week was very emotional for me.  I had said goodbye to the 20+ children that I had connected and worked within two schools, saw my first and last soccer game of my brothers, and said goodbye to my home-stay families and friends that I made during my time there.  Yesterday, I hopped on flight 1807 along with Canadian tourists and others landing in Toronto.  Before I left Costa Rica, I had made the red, white, blue colour of Costa Rica, friendship bracelets to people that I connected with and presented them.  They are a symbol of global friendship and proudness that the people had of their country.  I hope when I complete my studies at Centennial and work that I will return and be reunited with them.  As I walked through the house, I slowly un click the two keys I had from my keychain, one to the house and one to my room.  I placed them on the dining table that I had most of my meals at.   Farewell Costa Rica, hasta luego!  This was my global experience, I encourage you to take the keys to another country and open to a new global journey….. what will your global experience be?

By Sherry Ing, GEO International Internship Costa Rica Summer 2015 participant


CR experience


What exactly am I doing this summer? Right now, Toronto is filled with crowds of cheers for Athletes competing in the Pan Am Games. I had the personal choice of either staying in Toronto and joining in with fellow aspiring health professionals to support the Athletes or intern at a health based internship in Costa Rica. Both are important to me and relates to health & people, but living cross culturally and developing international friendship was a new personal goal for me. As a Centennial student, I am taking part in a GEO international internship in Llano Bonito, Costa Rica at the moment this summer. Llano Bonito, which is translated into English as flat and beautiful, which is contrary to what the description of the location here actually is. There is a humour to it and if you get it, the hills aren’t exactly flat in Llano Bonito. Be prepare to pack a good pair of hiking shoes because it’s a gastrocnemius (calf) workout here. For the internship, it consist of working with the Proal women in natural health assessment and plant based medicine. While the majority of my work week is spent with children of Llano Bonito at two elementary school with an English teacher. Just recently, me and my fellow health-related program Centennial student revitalized the green house at Proal. We cleaned it up a bit and then planted different vegetables and herbs. We had red and green leaf lettuce, chives, curly and flat leaf parsley, and seeded zucchini and radishes. These are only for the coordinators’ personal use for now. Hopefully it can be turned into an educational green house for school children to visit and to learn about where their food come from. My time here is almost coming to a close chapter, living cross culturally in this brief time period in Llano Bonito is filling me with new stories and experiences to share with my friends and family. I am creating international friendship, and enduring challenges that inspire new ideas and way of thinking about life.  What one personal and professional goal would you like to gain from an international internship experience?

By Sherry Ing, currently in Costa Rica




My home-stay brother asked me if I wanted to harvest aquacate, while he was happily trimming part of the stem off an aquacate. Aguacate is avocado in English. He just harvested the bins full of avocado at the back of the truck in the morning with the other male family members. His clothing were soiled and his hands muscle were very developed probably from many years of manual labour. While my other brother was taking a rest at an outdoor chair beside us. It was a moment that I will never forget. There were pictures being taken, but I opted not to be in a photo. The would-had-been photo would had consisted of me and my fellow Centennial student at either side of the truck with smiles on our faces between the bins of avocados. The reason I did not model in the photo was because I felt that I did not put in the work and my brothers had laboured in harvesting those avocados.  They should had been the models.  Many times at my home-stay they would leave the house early and return with similar characteristics in the afternoon. Soiled clothing, sweat pouring from their faces, and catching their breath. They would always be very proud, happy, of their work and shared the joy. These were a certain avocado cultivar made and harvested from Costa Rica. It is a fruit that is pear-shaped and is native to Central America. Every meal I have with my family had a side of avocado. They were nicely green, buttery, and tasted good. Each one that I had was savoured and I was thankful for. I appreciate how much love and care that my brothers takes in harvesting them and how important it is to them and their family.  If you love avocado, how much do you buy them for?  Where do they come from if they are not grown in your country?  What cultivar/variety is it?  Usually you will be buying the variety ‘Hass’.   What do you make with the avocado?

By Sherry Ing, currently in Costa Rica