On Tuesday, October 24, the University Honors Program, the Department of English Language and Literatures, the Department of Modern Languages, and the University Center for International Education were presented the President's Award for Excellence for Outstanding Collaborative Units for the Ambassador Program to Costa Rica.
Since 1995, Bobby Rubin (former Honors Faculty-in-Residence), along with Dorothy Alvarez, has taken more than 100 students on a "December in Paradise" trip to Costa Rica, always with excellent results. The trip has been so successful that it seemed more students should be able to participate. To achieve this goal of accessibility, additional courses were offered for credit this fall. Honors students could opt to take a seminar on Latin American culture, while Modern Languages students could earn credit for their immersion in Spanish, and students in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language program earn practicum credits by teaching in a Costa Rican school. As a result, a record number of thirty students from all three departments spent three weeks in Costa Rica this December with Rubin, Alvarez, and Spanish instructors Heather Blubaugh and Jennifer Cabrera.
Monica Snow from the Raj Soin College of Business captured the essence of the program when she wrote, "The Ambassador Program to Costa Rica offers academic credit and a richer learning experience to a far larger number of students because of the outstanding cooperation among these four units. Students benefit by more in-depth instruction and practical applications of the skills they seek for their specific majors. This highly successful program demonstrates the value to students when the university offers innovative, multi-disciplinary courses during the intersession." In addition, Manley Perkel, emeritus professor of mathematics, who nominated the program for the award, called it the "perfect study abroad vehicle." Honors director Susan Carrafiello noted that winning the award was a wonderful recognition, but the real reward is seeing the lasting impact this program has had on the students who have participated.