By Amanda Allie

Departing March 2 will be 18 of Madonna's own. The group of 18 consists of 15 students and three faculty members. Led by Biology professor Veronica Riha, the group will spend March 2-10 in Costa Rica sightseeing and helping out an endangered species.

"We are going to work with sea turtles and help protect their breeding grounds," Riha said.

Everyone will be a first-timer to Costa Rica, with the exception of Language and Literature professor Andrew Domzalski. Most are eager and anxious, including Admissions officer and graduate student  Doug Peacock.

"I am excited about witnessing a different culture for the first time ever, and I’m excited to work on a farm and witness other cultures. I’m nervous about translation because I only speak English," Peacock said.

A few others in the group may have a slight advantage, with a bit of Spanish background. When student Marisa Martin was asked how she plans on communicating in Costa Rica, she said "I plan on speaking Spanish to communicate."

The group launched the trip through a company called Ecoteach. They have high hopes for their trip, and Riha says if everything goes well, another trip will be underway. One of the highlights on the agenda will be going to a volcano and visiting with an indigenous tribe called Bribri.

Bribri's live in the mountains and Caribbean costal areas of Costa Rica and northern Panama. They are an isolated group of people who speak both Bribri and Spanish. Estimates vary on the population of the Bribri tribe, with the highest speculation being a population of 35,000.

Sea turtles, volcanoes, the opportunity to meet an indigenous tribe, Madonna's students and staff have a lot to look forward to, and a lot to accomplish.

"I hope to gain a better perspective of the life of others and more respect for the world around me. The Earth will only be around for so long, and we need to take care of it and it's creatures just like we do each other," student Susan Matthew-Dragich said.

If you have any further questions on the trip, please contact Veronica Riha at


Students take on service-learning in Costa Rica