Jackson Burton

Volunteering in South Africa

Name: 

Jackson Burton

Majors:

Business Economics

Engagement on campus:

Economics Society, Circle of Excellence Business Honors

Location and type of program where you studied abroad:

Faculty-led program to Costa Rica

Describe the location you studied abroad for someone who has never been there.

Costa Rica is a diverse tropical country. We spent our time in three different locations: by the beach, in the mountains, and in the capital city of San Jose. The beaches are beautiful and the tide is strong on the coast. The people here are very relaxed and friendly. The mountains are beautiful, and many of the rainforests are located up in the mountains. The mountains are much less developed and you will see people living in shacks and driving challenged vehicles on the gravel roads that circle the mountainside. San Jose is very busy and has many stores and markets.

Why did you chose your program?

I chose the Sustainable Economics trip to Costa Rica because of my Business Economics background. In addition to the economic and cultural learning opportunities, the Costa Rica program was attractive to me due to the chance to be out exploring nature and seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

What was your favorite class or academic activity abroad?  Why?

Our group of about 20 students stayed in the mountains of Costa Rica for three days. During this time, we learned about the Monteverde Institute (MVI), which promotes sustainable growth and protectionism within the Monteverde community and rainforests.  We got to learn how the MVI functions with minimal resources to work to save parts of the Costa Rican rainforest and to give out grants to those wishing to improve the community.   

Has study abroad changed who you are as a person?  If so, in what ways?

I have been sitting in my first-year classes wondering why these crazy faculty and upperclassmen students have been stressing “gain new perspectives” about the benefits of study abroad. I now completely understand and support these crazy people. Studying abroad in Costa Rica was like being in another world. I have gained so many new valuable perspectives that I now apply every day in my life. Thank you to those people who pushed me to go on a study abroad during my first-year of college.

What professional skills did you gain while abroad? 

While working with the Monteverde Institute in the mountains of Costa Rica, a few of my fellow classmates and I developed a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to help the institute evaluate and make decisions on grant applications more efficiently. It was very cool to create a spreadsheet for a real-world application, and get to meet the people who would be utilizing the tool.

If you had the chance to study abroad again, what would you do differently?

I would dedicate more time to becoming somewhat familiar with the local language. I find foreign language very interesting and I would have got more out of the trip if I would have been more fluent in Spanish.