During Spring Break 2020, Professor Kevin Torres and Lynn Edwards, USC Union’s Nursing Administrator, took six USC Union students to Costa Rica to learn about the culture. The students had to apply to go on the trip and they received course credit. Even though they had no symptoms, they had to quarantine themselves for two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic when they returned to the states.
Professor Torres began his career with the University of South Carolina system in Fall 2016 and joined the faculty at USC Union in Fall 2017. While teaching is his true passion, Professor Torres has also served as a medical interpreter for hospitals in both South Carolina and North Carolina. In addition to English, Spanish and French, Professor Torres speaks Italian, German and Russian. He has traveled extensively to Panamá, México, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Curaçao, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
His editorial about their trip is below.
Imagine always dreaming of being able to bring the pictures from a textbook to life in front of the eyes of your students. Imagine dreaming of being able to see the reactions of your students as they step foot into a foreign country for the very first time and
hearing “¡Pura Vida!” accompanied by a breeze from the mountains that acted as if it were a hug welcoming you to the country. This dream became a reality for me, 6 students from USC Union and my colleague, Lynn Edwards during Spring Break 2020.
Traveling from the lively and welcoming city of San José to the Arenal region and to Monteverde where forests, wildlife and the majestic landscapes bring to your very eyes the natural beauty of Costa Rica and then traveling to the Pacific Coast. On the Pacific Coast, we stepped foot onto a beach where volcanic minerals had changed the color of the sand as if it were creating the illusion of walking among the stars from its dark and glossy fine texture and it is there that we had the opportunity to enjoy a sunset that leaves vibrant heavenly colors in the sky even after the sun has completely set.
Words simply cannot describe the adventure in its entirety which included zip lining, swimming in hot springs, a tour of a coffee plantation, a crocodile tour, enjoying typical Costa Rican dishes, and experiencing life in Costa Rica. To be able to go beyond the pages and witness your students experience what textbooks can only describe in words and pictures, is an opportunity that leaves a profound sentiment of happiness and a memory that is to be cherished for a lifetime.
The world is a giant classroom and I hope that students take advantage of that classroom as well as the lessons and experiences that it has to offer by going beyond the pages and experiencing it firsthand. Augustine of Hippo probably said it best, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”