Rice and beans for one UIU student


Rice and beans for one UIU student

Daphne Barness, a junior at Upper Iowa University studying art and pyschology, experienced Costa Rica a little differently from most.

Barness, also a South Winneshiek alum, was one of 10 students who chose to participate in the UIU Alternative Spring Break program. Daryl Grove, assistant dean of students and director of student leadership and adventure and students travelled to Costa Rica this year, where they stayed in San Miguel, Puerto Viejo and with the BriBri tribe.

For approximately one week, Barness and her fellow colleagues donated school supplies and small toys to a local school, volunteered at a coffee plantation and helped create signs for the BriBri’s medicinal trail. 

“Serving on these trips is a unique and life-changing experience, and something that I could have never imagined I could be part of,” said Barness.

The first couple days, students stayed with host families. The rest of the trip was spent in simple houses of the indigenous BriBri tribe on the outskirts of town. 

For those students, most meals consisted of “Lots of rice and beans!” exclaimed Barness, adding that fried plantains were plentiful also. 

The trip was not all work, however. Barness experienced whitewater rafting, explored the jungle, visited the hot spring, and even learned how to make chocolate. 

“Overall, we enjoyed just being able to explore the general surrounding area and meet new people and learn their stories,” added Barness.

One of the most surprising and challenging aspects for Barness was communication with the locals, who spoke only Spanish. Barness had only taken two and a half years of Spanish back in middle school.

“I expected more English to be spoken when we got down there,” she recalled. “However, looking back, I loved that I got the chance to challenge myself. It was an opportunity for us to experience a new culture and learn new forms of communication.” 

The UIU junior praised two students in her group who were taking Spanish classes, saying, “they did an amazing job” at bridging the communication gap. 

Although, she did not have much contact with anyone from home and missed her family the most, Barness enjoyed meeting the host families and the people they were helping. 

“I loved getting to know all the amazing people that we met along the way during our trip and enjoyed the hospitality,” she said enthusiastically.

This is Barness’s second year participating in these trips. Originally, she became interested while working on Grove for a work study for civic engagement on campus. Last year, she travelled to Belize. 

“I loved my experience last year serving the people of Belize and was anxious to have yet another opportunity to do community service abroad again,” she explained.

The only requirement for participating was to be dedicated and hardworking she said.

Barness described most of the students who chose to go as having a “high passion for serving other and representing themselves and UIU in a positive manner.” 

For her parents, there were initial anxieties she said, but, this was her second international trip and she just returned from Boston. 

“I think they are getting used to the fact that I am not about to settle down,” said Barness.

The UIU student already had plans to travel to Italy this month to study art and to Hawaii at the end of July to present at an APA conference.

Next spring break will bring another opportunity to go somewhere else. 

“I would love to go again!” exclaimed Barness.



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