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Long Partnership with Costa Rican Institution is Celebrated


JONESBORO – Each summer for the past 15 years, a group of Arkansas State University students have stepped out of their comfort zone and immersed themselves in a study abroad trip to Costa Rica.

A-State and el Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI), a Spanish language school with three campuses in Costa Rica, have been working in partnership to enrich students' education.

When CPI officials visited Jonesboro recently, Dr. Kelly Damphousse, chancellor, presented them with a plaque in appreciation for the partnership and collaboration in making quality a high quality study abroad program available to A-State students.

Dr. Ruth Owens, an associate professor of Spanish who has worked with the program since its inception, introduced CPI officials Lorena Najarro, administrative director, and Jonle Sedar, groups administrative director.

"They have been instrumental in providing very high quality study abroad experiences in Costa Rica for multiple groups of A-State students since the program began," Owens said.

Damphouse said CPI offers what for many is a life-changing activity.  More than 150 students have participated in A-State’s longest ongoing study abroad program.

”The first A-State study abroad program in Costa Rica was conceived in 2003 as a safe, faculty-led experience that would totally immerse groups of students in the Spanish language and Costa Rican culture," Damphousse said.  "In addition to learning Spanish during this four-week summer program, students live with host families, attend Spanish classes, and go on excursions to locations of cultural significance and great natural beauty."

"We are honored to be able to receive students from Arkansas State University for these many years," Sedar responded.  She emphasized the value of students' participation in the cooperative arrangement, "including the idea we're living in a more globalized world."

Damphousse also announced CPI is donating a scholarship for a future program participant as a gesture of goodwill and friendship.  To honor the memory of Shelby Rhodes, who travelled in the program last year, CPI will provide a one-time $1,100 scholarship for an A-State Honors College student to be in the 2018 program.  Rhodes, who was president of the Honors College Association, died tragically in an automobile accident near Sheridan last August.

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