Costa Rica / Global Perspectives on Children & the Law: Final Reflections

We had a remarkable week exploring children’s rights in Costa Rica. As I often say when teaching, the law is ultimately about people. And this Study Abroad trip provided an opportunity to see how the law interacts with and affects the lived experience of diverse communities, from migrants living in an informal settlement in San Jose to indigenous peoples living in rural Costa Rica. Our final day included two site visits:

  • Tecnológico de Costa Rica (TEC), a university with an innovative program focused on increasing access to higher education for indigenous students in Costa Rica. Thank you to Diana Segura Sojo and the students in the program (you were all amazing; we learned so much and left inspired).

  • The Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Thank you for hosting us and giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the Court and its work (and its innovative ideas when it comes to remedies).

We are truly grateful to all the individuals and institutions who gave their time to our program, including especially our partners at the University for Peace Centre for Executive Education. Thanks also to GSU College of Law, its Center for Law, Health and Society, and the GSU Study Abroad Office for their support. Finally, I am grateful to the students on the program—their commitment inspires me and gives me hope for the future.

In the spirit of the TEC program, I end this “Wrap Up” post with the students’ voices. Selected reflections are included below:

  • Global Perspectives on Children and the Law is a fully immersive program that will help you truly understand the impact that human rights law can have on a vast number of individuals and communities. The program focused on various aspects of children rights issues, practices, and programs covering health, social, cultural, environmental, economic, and educational rights. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity not only to bond with a group of highly educated people and experience the reality of Costa Rica on a deeper level, but also it gave us tools to look at human rights law and the seemingly insurmountable world problems in a different lens. — Pamela Pedersen

  • I have gained a great appreciation for the Costa Rican people's implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, providing access to education and healthcare while maintaining their culture. Something so monumental requires the full support of the citizens and that is evident here. It has opened my eyes to see that my way (or on a bigger scale, the US way) is not the only way. This trip has provided me with an appreciation for international law and direction for my career in law in the U.S. Lastly, somewhat unexpectedly, I learned a lot about healthcare in Costa Rica as compared to the US system which will enable me to take a more educated stance in my personal life.  — Ashley O’Neil

  • We take for granted the notion that our ways of life are the only ways feasible. Math, as we perceive it, is a universal language. We can’t all learn the same. We can’t all be medicated the same. The challenge has been and continues to be incorporating two diverse worlds and having cultural pertinence in all aspects of an individual’s life. Visiting TEC made me realize how much our school systems lack in understanding that you can’t take a huge group of DIFFERENT kids and expect them to learn in the SAME manner. Visiting an indigenous community near San Vito showed me that you can have a universal understanding of what medicine is but also allow alternative methods of medicine to be incorporated — Mattou Mokri

  • This trip has been not only enlightening and educational, but also a lot of fun. I feel as if I’ve gotten a full tour of Costa Rica, from government agencies and programs, to city living and the beach. As they say in Costa Rica, Pura Vida!  — Sophie Welf



Costa Rica -- Days 3 & 4: The lived experience of migrant indigenous peoples

Days 3 and 4: Over the past two days, we’ve had the opportunity to enrich our understanding of the lived experience of indigenous communities in the south of Costa Rica and the rights-based approach of the government to health and other interventions. The Casa de la Alegría program in Costa Rica offered a great example of an intervention that addresses the interrelated nature of children’s rights and the rights of their parents. In addition, our visit to La Casona, an indigenous territory, provided important insights into how health and human rights interventions can be adapted to meet communities where they are and ensure respect for local culture.

Many thanks to the following: Carlos Faerron Guzmán, from whom we learned so much; the other individuals who joined us for various parts of these two days and shared their knowledge; the communities that gave us the opportunity to visit and learn from them; and the Organization for Tropical Studies for hosting us.



Costa Rica -- Day 2: From International to Indigenous Perspectives


Day 2:  Another fantastic day in Costa Rica. It started with a thought-provoking, framework-challenging lecture from UPEACE Professor Olivia Sylvester on indigenous peoples’ rights, cultural traditions, and perspectives. This not only provided a critical foundation for some of the work will we do later in the week, but it also challenged all of us to think about what it really means to look at issues such as conservation, education, and human rights from the perspectives of indigenous peoples. Representatives from UNICEF and Defence for Children International then briefed us on the status of children’s rights and child well-being in Costa Rica. Finally, we had the opportunity to visit with PANI (the national child welfare agency) and also visit a group home for children. Through all of these presentations and visits, we were able to gain insights into the role of international organizations, government agencies, and local NGOs in advancing children’s rights.

Our thanks to all who shared their insights with us today.

More to come tomorrow….


Costa Rica -- Day 1: From Social Innovation to the Lived Experience

Day 1:  Sunday, our first day, was anything but a day of rest.  We jumped run into things, spending the morning at the University for Peace, a United Nations-mandated university and our partner institution for this program, learning about social innovation and brainstorming about how design thinking might be applied to children’s rights issues.

After a lunchtime hike to the Monument to Disarmament, Labor, and Peace and beyond, we were privileged to spend the afternoon in the Triangulo de la Solidaridad informal settlement community in San Jose. We are so grateful to the Boy with a Ball team who were our guides and to the community who welcomed us and gave us a chance to learn about their lives.

Arriving at UPEACE

Arriving at UPEACE