Bearkats in Costa Rica

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New Mass Communication graduates Grace Ngo and Jackie Garcia and GCJD Program Assistant Jacque Jaramillo traveled with GCJD to Costa Rica, where the center offered a training on digital journalism. The students reflected on their experience. 

Grace Ngo

gracengoGoing to Costa Rica with the Global Center for Journalism and Democracy was an incredible learning experience. I could honestly say that GCJD broadened my horizons about the world and the journalism profession as a whole.

I was extremely enthusiastic, for I had never been to Costa Rica before although I had been to parts of Latin America such as Mexico and Guatemala. I loved comparing the climate, the people, the culture and the food to my prior travels, for even though all of these countries are in the same region, they each have their own unique essence that makes them stand out from the rest.

To my surprise, I was glad to find that the pictures of Costa Rica could not compare to actually being there in person. It was breathtaking. Every time we drove through San Jose, I was taken aback by the vibrant energy of the people and the picturesque mountains. I even got to enjoy the mineral hot springs!

In San Jose, GCJD collaborated with Colegio de Periodistas de Costa Rica to create a journalism conference to trainCosta Rican journalists to efficiently transition to disseminating news digitally.

Throughout the conference, I was able to network and build substantial rapport with all of the expert trainers at the journalism conference. Being able to listen and learn from experienced journalists from the New York Times, National Geographic and CNN was truly enlightening.

I am honored that I was chosen to assist in GCJD’s initiative in Costa Rica and to be a part of an organization that upholds the importance of effective journalism in a democratic society. As I make my way out into the world, the values and lessons from GCJD will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Jackie Garcia

jackiegarciaTraveling to a place like Costa Rica has been one of the best experiences that I have ever had in my life. When my professor Kelli Arena told me at the beginning of the Spring semester that I was chosen to do a project for the Global Center for Journalism and Democracy, I was astonished. When we arrived in Costa Rica on Wednesday I was exposed to a whole different culture. I am Mexican-American, and coming to this country has helped me learn new Latin American customs. I tasted new food, listened to new music and experienced a different way of living. There were many things that I enjoyed about trip; from eating gallo pinto every morning to strolling around the city of San Jose. I am a huge foodie, and I noticed that the food in Costa Rica is very sweet, and its something that I am not used to. However, it is quite delicious. Costa Ricans eat a lot of plantains at every meal.  Our host, The Colegio de Periodistas de Costa Rica, took us out two days to get to know the city of San Jose. I visited several museums, and also their amazing theater (Fun fact: according to our guide, the theater was accidently built in Costa Rica, but was supposed to be built in another country).

Professionally, it was also enlightening. I learned more about how media is transitioning digitally. The trainers that were brought to Costa Rica by GCJD gave great presentations. One session in particular stood out, and was led by   Erica Berenstein from New York Times.  Her session was extremely interactive, and introduced journalists to new ways to use smart phones for video story telling. She recommended we use an   application called videolicious. Her presentation will actually help me in the future because I want to be a multi- media journalist for a news station. Another presentation that I found interesting was Manuel Canales’ presentation. He works at National Geographic, and led a great session of how to use infographics to tell a story. Listening to Manuel explain how to create a design, and how to tell a story through graphics really helped me critically  think about new ways to tell a story.  I decided I need to really improve this skill, and am going to look for ways to learn more.  

I am really glad I got to spend personal time with the trainers as well and to hear their stories. It gave me a whole new perspective about the field I have chosen to pursue.

All in all, I gained new insights, perspectives and skills. I traveled to a country I had never been to before. I as able to network with professionals. What a great way to cap my studies at SHSU.

I came back from this trip knowing a whole lot more than when I left.

Jacque Jaramillo

jacqueI have been the Program Assistant at GCJD for almost a year and half now. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow professionally in so many ways. I truly believe in the work that we do and I know that it is vital to our society today. When asked to join our team for a training in Costa Rica, I was thrilled. I’ve assisted with all the preparation and planning that takes place before an international training so I was excited to see the results of all the planning in action.

GCJD partnered with the Colegio de Periodistas de Costa Rica in San Jose to host a journalism workshop to offer local Costa Rican journalists assistance in transitioning to a digital format. GCJD brought trainers with expertise in this field to teach the sessions. The opportunity to communicate and network with these brilliant minds was truly invaluable. Listening to their personal stories about life as a reporter gave me a brand new perspective about journalism.

The overall trip was a phenomenal experience! Stepping out of my comfort zone paid off. Costa Rica is teeming with vibrant culture and the city of San Jose is thriving with life. The beautiful mountains and countryside were a different scenery and a welcome change of landscape. I relished in the moment as I soaked in the people, culture, and way of life. New adventures are truly the best way to learn because life begins at the end of your comfort zone.


Global Center for Journalism and Democracy
Dan Rather Communications Building, Room 201, Huntsville, TX 77340
Phone: (936) 294-4399