Exterior view of Co-op Wellness Commons with MHC crest

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Education students ready to embrace Indigenous culture in Costa Rica

As the student study break approaches at Medicine Hat College (MHC), eight education students are getting ready to embrace Indigenous culture in Costa Rica from Feb. 19-23.

Fully funded by Global Skills Opportunities (GSO), the students will spend a week living in the rainforest amongst the Bri Bri peoples, an Indigenous community who live completely off-grid. 

Learning about culture through the lens of those Indigenous to the lands of Costa Rica and the ability to obtain an intercultural awareness certificate along the way, are reasons fourth-year student, Torrie Jantz, was motivated to apply for the opportunity.

“This experience will help me in my career, to connect with students that are both Indigenous and non-Indigenous and add to my piece in reconciliation. Especially being an educator, it's very important to be responsible and try to not fix the past, but to make a better future for everyone,” says Jantz, who looks forward to being fully immersed in the culture, alongside her peers. 

As education students make up the full cohort of students attending this year’s study abroad trip, the students will be making a special visit to the school in the Bri Bri community, providing an understanding of how the education system differs from the North American system in which they have all been raised. 

“I try not to be ignorant, and I try to learn as much as I can so I can be more empathetic and connect with others on a different level,” adds Jantz. “I think that having this experience and learning about Indigenous people, outside of Canada and North America, will be awesome and helpful to bring up in future lessons and while making connections with my colleagues.”

For fourth-year Métis student, Jillian Teichroeb, the ability to learn from an Indigenous culture that is different from her own, is a privilege she looks forward to discovering in her travels. 

“I really believe that learning comes through listening to other people's stories, so I'm really excited to exchange stories and compare the Indigenous culture that I've learned about and am a part of, compared to the Bri Bri community and their Indigenous culture,” says Teichroeb. “I look forward to seeing how their relationship is to the country as a whole and compare it to Canada and our relationship with Indigenous people, and how we're working towards truth and reconciliation.”

The ability to learn about the connection the Bri Bri community have to their land is another benefit which Teichroeb plans to take away in both her personal life and career. 

“I think the learning will really impact my teaching and my students. It’s important to me, going into teaching next year, knowing that it's my duty to Indigenize curriculum, to bring those learnings and teachings to my students,” adds Teichroeb. 

Those interested in learning more about the annual Costa Rica trip and upcoming summer opportunities to South Korea, Japan, and India, are encouraged to register for an information session by emailing goabroad@mhc.ab.ca.