MPA seventh- and eighth-graders got a chance to practice their Spanish and French language skills and explore language and culture, community service, and environmental sustainability on trips to Costa Rica and Quebec last month.


Highlights of seven days in San Jose, Costa Rica, included:

  • visiting the Maleku, an indigenous people of Costa Rica;
  • volunteering to help clean and paint a local public school;
  • seeing artifacts from pre-Colombian civilizations at the San Jose national museum;
  • visiting a nature reserve to see waterfalls and flora and fauna including native butterflies, hummingbirds, and snakes;
  • learning about sustainable farming, grassroots forestry, and the impact humans have on conservation and the environment;
  • having lunch with Costa Rican families;
  • touring the small village of La Guacima;
  • practicing Spanish with native speakers; and
  • dancing and cooking classes.


Highlights of five days in Quebec City and Montreal included:

  • sightseeing in and around Quebec City, including landmarks such as Hotel de Glace and Montmorency Falls;
  • breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and lots of croissants at Parisian-inspired cafes and bistros;
  • learning about Quebecois history, including French Canadians and the First Nations, and exploring local traditions in maple syrup production, woodcarving, and the copper trade;
  • touring an authentic reconstruction of a Huron village;
  • watching and participating in interactive performances by history-themed musical and theater troupes;
  • dog sledding and inner-tube sledding;
  • practicing French with native speakers;
  • touring local historic and artistic neighborhoods; and
  • taking in the sights and sounds of Montreal’s busiest outdoor market.