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Two years ago I would have never imagined that I would see the glow of molten lava contrasting against the night sky, stand on the top of a mountain looking at the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles away, or become the daughter of a family other than my own. I began my journey through the World Food Prize program in February 2004 when my friend Lindsey Negaard told me that she would be interning in Mexico for the World Food Prize. After explaining to me all the different steps necessary to compete for an internship, she asked me if I was interested in continuing the program for Bettendorf High School. Before writing my paper on water efficiency in rice production and obtaining background information on starvation, I was ignorant of the number of hungry people worldwide that can be saved through science. The presenters at the World Food Prize Symposium in October 2004 impacted me to desire to see these parts of the world myself. When I was selected to intern at the Monteverde Institute in Monteverde, Costa Rica, I realized that I had a great deal to learn about Costa Rica and its culture before I even left the country. The next two months taught me lessons that I will never forget and introduced me to a people and a culture that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Costa Rica, meaning rich coast in Spanish, is a beautiful country sandwiched between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Although Costa Rica is a very small country, encompassing only 51,100 sq km, it is one of the most well-educated countries in Central America with 96% of its approximately 4 million people being able to read and write over age 15. (CIA World Fact Book) Because of abolishing its military in 1948, Costa Rica has gained a reputation of a safe, peaceful country with strong democratic roots. (“Our Democracy: An Overview”) Although Costa Rica’s economy has been booming recently because of ecotourism, traditionally Costa Ricans worked in the agricultural sector. Even today, twenty percent of its population is employed in agriculture. (CIA World Fact Book) The Costa Rican people, or “ticos” as they are referred to commonly, are an extremely friendly and caring population that emphasizes retaining traditions such as the Catholic religion. (“Our Democracy: An Overview”)
Monteverde Institute MVI
Cavanagh, Erin, "Monteverde, Costa Rica: Balancing environment and development" (2005). Economy and Resource Management [Monteverde Institute]. 22.