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Growing the Future: INTL Students Cultivate Global Citizenship Through Service

Growing the Future: INTL Students Cultivate Global Citizenship Through Service

Creating globally minded citizens that embrace complexity, think critically, and demonstrate integrity across cultures is one of the central tenets to the mission of Silicon Valley International School (INTL). This can be seen not only in the classroom through the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum but also in the service trips students are able to go on throughout their educational journeys at INTL.

Recently, INTL’s 9th and 10th Graders went on a service trip to Costa Rica in partnership with the nonprofit group Dream Volunteers (DVA). It was an unforgettable experience filled with hard work, cultural immersion, and meaningful connections.

Two 10th Grade students speaking with a local in her garden.

Throughout their time in Costa Rica, INTL’s high schoolers were able to immerse themselves in the local culture, learning about the history of the region and connecting with the people. Additionally, the trip provided the opportunity for the students to leave a lasting impact as they undertook service work in the area.

One of the largest service activities the students undertook while on the trip was to help fertilize and tend to over 600 regular trees that will blossom to provide organic coffee plants the shade they need to grow. Additionally, they mixed concrete and applied it to rebar to create the foundation for a new coffee drying terrace at the Green Communities bio fabrica (biofactory). This work contributes directly toward efforts to promote organic coffee farming, replenishing the soil, conserving the land, and restoring the cloud forest of the Los Santos Region in Costa Rica.

Working in the field digging a trench.

When asked after about the importance of the work done by INTL’s students and DVA, Steve Hambright, a senior program director for DVA stated, “at the core of our work, we seek to educate and connect kids around the globe so they will be inspired to take responsibility and action to tackle the big challenges in their communities and beyond. They become catalysts for positive change in their own communities, leading or supporting impactful service projects identified in the action pledges that they create before their return home.”

Reflecting on the work they’d accomplished, the students came up with their own action pledges to better their community at home. Some such action pledges included growing a school garden while continuing to advocate for more recyclable and reusable materials during meals.

Students learning about the extraction process for coffee beans.

“This group provided insightful reflections, brought empathy and passion into their work, and kept an open mind to new ideas and cultures. It was powerful to witness,” praised Valeria Sandoval, one of the DVA chaperones that accompanied the INTL students on the trip.

"The Costa Rica Service Trip was an insightful experience in which eyes were opened and everlasting memories from amazing experiences were made," said Lukas W. (10th Grader) when asked about his experience. "From hanging out the side of a truck, to working on steep coffee plantations and even surfing, we all learnt a lot and have reconsidered the way we look at everyday actions which may seem like they do no harm. Experiencing the culture and the community in which we stayed was a privilege which most people do not experience when visiting another country. The 2024 Costa Rica Trip was truly magical, and one I will never forget."

These service trips are critical to the inquiry-based education at INTL as students gain hands-on learning experiences and develop cultural awareness that equip them to make a positive impact on the world. The trip wasn't just about volunteering in Costa Rica; it was about building connections, fostering empathy, and inspiring future global citizens. INTL is incredibly proud of its students and the positive change they're committed to creating in the world.

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