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NEW YORK -- Ten high-achieving, low-income students from Williamsburg Charter High School is participating in Learning Afar, a travel program created by Afar Media and subsidized by the Pearson Foundation.
"Afar is really dedicated to this idea of experiential travel, travel as a way to connect with people and immerse in a culture," said Joe Diaz, Afar Media co-founder.
The educational program is proving to increase graduation rates and college attendance within the participating high schools.
For most of the Brooklyn students, the trip to Costa Rica is their first time out of the country, the first time they've used a passport, and first flight.
"It's a program that develops a reciprocal relationship with foreign people that promotes cultural diffusion, the opportunity to help others, to opportunity to get to know oneself better, the opportunity to learn how my actions as an individual effect the whole picture," said student Christopher Mejia.
The whole picture includes snapshots of daily life in the eco-friendly Central American country of Costa Rica.
"We’re visiting a coffee plantation, a pineapple plantation, we’re going to see a volcano, we're doing some service work, so we’re going to an orphanage and giving them some toys, playing with the children," said group leader Jessie Hernandez.
Once home, the students will integrate their experiences into service projects, and probably make a mad dash for the technology they left behind.
"They are totally disconnected from electronics; no phones, no iPads, no tablets, no anything," Hernandez said.