Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Brooklyn High-Achievers Take Trip to Costa Rica

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Brooklyn students are being taken on the trip of a lifetime—to Costa Rica. NY1's Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.

Nearly a dozen Brooklyn students are taking their classroom to Costa Rica and jumping right into the pages of a travel magazine.

"Yes, we are leaving the pond. We are jumping out of the pond," says group leader Jessie Hernandez.

"Afar is really dedicated to this idea of experiential travel, travel as a way to connect with people and immerse in a culture," says Joe Diaz, co-founder of Afar Media.

This handpicked group of 10 high-achieving, low-income students from Williamsburg Charter High School is participating in Learning Afar, a travel program created by Afar Media and subsidized by the Pearson Foundation, an educational program which is proving to increase graduation rates and college attendance within the participating high schools.

For most of the Brooklyn students, it’s their first trip out of the country, first passport and first flight. 

"It's a program that develops a reciprocal relationship with foreign people that promotes cultural diffusion, the opportunity to help others, to opportunity to get to know oneself better, the opportunity to learn how my actions as an individual effect the whole picture," says participant Christopher Mejia.

The whole picture includes snapshots of daily life in the eco-friendly Central American country of Costa Rica.

"We’re visiting a coffee plantation, a pineapple plantation, we’re going to see a volcano, we're doing some service work, so we’re going to an orphanage and giving them some toys, playing with the children," Hernandez says.

Back home, they'll integrate their experiences into service projects—and probably make a mad dash for the technology they left behind.

"They are totally disconnected from electronics; no phones, no iPads, no tablets, no anything," Hernandez says.

That just might be the most valuable lesson they didn’t expect to learn.

As is common practice in the travel industry, Travel With Val often receives complimentary travel or reduced "media" rates at hotels, resorts and attractions, including those that may be featured in these reports. Such consideration is not taken in exchange for any express or implied promise or understanding of any nature, particularly regarding the content of these reports. These reports only feature travel providers personally recommended by Valarie D’Elia in the exercise of her independent editorial judgment, and do not represent the endorsement of Time Warner Cable or any third party. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP