James Madison University

Summer Study in Costa Rica

PHOTO: Adam Edmunds and Mark Menzies

Mark Menzies and Adam Edmunds are second year students in the Combined Integrated Doctoral Program in Clinical and School Psychology. The C-I program encourages students to take a broad view of the field and reflect both on how the field of psychology is relevant for globalization and on how different nations and cultural contexts impact psychological development. As such, the program is increasing opportunities for training in the international context. Last year, as part of a four week study abroad program, Mark and Adam traveled to Costa Rica where they had a variety of experiences related to providing health services in both the urban and rural areas.  They explored both the public and private health systems, and had the opportunity to visit clinics and hospitals in both systems.  Because James Madison University was partnering with UNIBE, they had ready guides in the Costa Rican students to inspire lively discussion of our presuppositions about what good health care, good psychology, should be.  These discussions could also be had with host families, who often went out of their way to explain and share their perspectives.  Because of the collaborative nature of the trip, Adam and Mark were introduced to a variety of Costa Rican issues by educators, physicians, hospital administrators, psychologists and politically concerned lecturers.  Adam and Mark were also able to consider firsthand the concerns of people working to provide care to rural, immigrant, and indigenous populations.  Indigenous health philosophy was explained by a shaman and we worked with a group of ladies in La Carpio who are invested in bettering life for children in poverty through education and positive parenting.  The team offered some ideas on parenting, self-care, and validating children’s expression.  They were warmly welcomed and openly listened to the concerns of the women.  Both from the highly educated perspectives and hard work the women devoted to finding opportunities for growth, the trip was inspirational.  It was one more way in which the CI program attends to the charge to be culturally informed, personally attuned, and globally aware.