Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Sophomores Build Homes & Language Skills in Costa Rica

 Demarest, NJ: This summer, Grace Flynn and Julia Farah joined forces with approximately 30 other Rustic Pathways volunteers to complete several service projects in Costa Rica. Working with this international community service organization, the volunteers constructed houses for multiple families, built bathrooms at a local high school, and helped some young students practice their English.

Farah is a resident of Pearl River, New York, and Flynn lives in Oradell. Both are sophomores at the Academy of the Holy Angels.

Their nine-day adventure began with a stop in the capital city of San Jose. The following day, the students traveled to a Rustic Pathways property in La Fortuna that became their base for the next six nights.


“The first day, we went to the house of a Costa Rican family. We were in the process of building them a new house because their current house was too small and was falling apart. We filled a septic tank with boulders, cleaned, glued, plastered, and painted the walls. We also helped dig in their backyard for another septic tank,” Flynn said of the experience.


The group also practiced their masonry techniques as they repaired a wall at a community center and helped build bathrooms at a nearby school. The local students gave the volunteers a tour of the facility and a look at the animals they keep.


Flynn and Farah enjoyed speaking Spanish with the Costa Rican students who are learning English.


“We also went to a local elementary school and worked with the fourth graders and sixth graders. We organized games and icebreakers that helped them study their English vocabulary. The little kids also showed us a few dances that they were learning,” the AHA students shared.


The trip focused on service work, but the volunteers also had an opportunity to try zip lining, whitewater rafting, and enjoy the natural hot springs and the La Fortuna waterfall. The volunteers also bonded over their common experiences.


“I have a greater appreciation for community service and how a few people can do something so small that helps another person and their family for their entire lifetime,” Flynn summarized.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


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