Pura Vida

The ubiquitous Costa Rican mantra "pura vida" suggests that, here, we live the "good life."

The Pura Vida Learning Abroad experience happens during winter break in San Ramon and Palmares, Costa Rica. Students and faculty from a variety of disciplines take on a community project while exploring the corners and culture of this fascinating blue-collar regional center in Alejuela province.

We'll pursue our academic projects by day, share our learning at night, and together take in the cultural immersion that is uniquely Costa Rica: the rain forest, salsa dancing, coffee, and Manuel San Antonio Park on the Pacific coast.

Visit the Pura Vida website for details and to apply to the program.

Pura vida!

A Brief History

Program leader and Construction Management faculty director Peter Hilger has been leading the Pura Vida Learning Abroad group for 10 years and shares its origin story:

"At the suggestion of a CMGT alumnus, Dustin Dresser (CCE '08), who lived and worked in San Ramon (and subsequently married a tica), I started the program in 2014 with six construction management students. Dustin had started an agency, CostaRicaFrika, connecting international students with local cultural immersion programs and had connections to potential organizations we could serve. We worked with a small, local rural development agency developing a proposal (design/cost/schedule) for converting an abandoned police station into a center for computer training for local residents of Piedades Norte. Though the project was never built, the success of that initiative for both the student experience and the benefit to agencies of need became the model for subsequent programs. 

In fact, in 2015, we made a proposal for a local orphanage to expand—in local currency, in metric, and in Spanish. The proposal was subsequently submitted to a state agency that placed it into the lottery system for development funds, and our proposal was accepted and subsequently built, nearly identically to our proposal.

Over the years, we hosted 117 students, completing proposals for a medical clinic, the local senior citizens' home, a men's shelter, a women's cancer recovery center, and a disability services provider, as well as providing field experiences for Integrated Behavioral Health graduate students. We continue to this day to find local projects for agencies of need and, with a team of interdisciplinary students, developing comprehensive proposals for the organizations while assisting local agencies with behavioral health interns."