In order to understand our trip to the Osa Peninsula, one must know something about the man who led it. Bernardo Aguilar is the professor for the class “Ecosystem Health and Public Health: The Case of Costa Rica”. He grew up in Costa Rica but is a resident of the US and teaches at a university in Arizona (I think at ASU). He is an enthusiastic teacher who loves sparking new minds to great ideas and challenging conventional ways of thinking. Throughout our time here in Costa Rica, he has challenged us to think critically about how things (from ideas, history, to the identity of the country itself) are presented and the motives behind such presentation.
Bernardo is also the head of an NGO called Fundacion Neotropica. The foundation’s chief goal is to find balance between man and nature, especially along the lines of conservation. Bernardo encourages his students to fully engage with the world around them and the material he goes over in class. Field trips are a must. Our midterm and final for the Ecosystems class were both based on field excursions. Bernardo took us to visit the protected zone of La Carpintera for our midterm, he also led the group trip to the National Museum, and for our final exam he organized the group trip to the Osa Peninsula. He has a philosophy concerning exams that I really appreciated and agreed with: he considers them another opportunity to learn. Using his connections and knowledge about the area, he gave the entire Travel-Study group the chance for an informative and hands-on experience in Osa.