Sunday, January 21, 2018


Trips like this don't just happen.  There's a lot of work and planning that go on in the background that most folks don't see.

In particular, the students, Tim, and I want to extend our heartfelt thanks to the folks in the International Programs Office at Westfield State University for their organization, guidance, and help:

  • Director Cynthia Siegler,
  • Danielle Emerson, and
  • Bobby O'Neill.

Tim and I (and the Environmental Science Department) couldn't hardly function without the help of our incomparable assistant Mary Masse and lab tech extraordinaire Sarah Tomas.  Thank you for everything.

Cast of Characters:

Our awesome guides Mark Wainwright

 and Deb Hamilton

And most especially, my thanks to all the students for sharing some time with me (and being patient while I took about a million photos.  These are mostly last day portraits I made at the beach.)















 and Heather.

 It was an honor to get to watch all these students grow during the trip.

I've been working with Dr. Tim Parshall for many years.  He's an amazing educator, and somehow seems to bring out the best that each student has to offer.  This trip has been the result of many long hours of course design and evolution on his part, over seven or eight trips.  It's been slowly refined in many, many small ways that students never see, but benefit greatly from.  

Students routinely report that this trip is the best thing they ever did in their lives.  I've seen that most of our students who go on to graduate school are students that took this Costa Rica course -  I believe that this course rekindles a childlike curiosity in students to learn and to understand the world.  Also, many of our students who later go study abroad or do post-graduation internships abroad are students that took this course - we met two course alumni in Costa Rica during this trip alone.  I think that speaks volumes for how powerful of an experience this course is, and the impact that Tim has made on many, many students' lives.  We all owe him a lot.

 The picture above is one of Nick and his ball and cupper thingy, which I still haven't learned the name of.  To me, this is one of the strongest expressions of joy and contentment I know of.  Happiness in simple things, and an appreciation and joy of life simply for the high privilege of getting to experience it.  This is the gift I wish for you, my blog readers.

Finally, my inadequate thanks to my wonderful wife Karin, who kept the home front running, edited many of these blog posts, and shares my life.

Pura Vita
Costa Rica 2018

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