UWC Costa Rica

United World College Costa Rica


United World College Costa Rica is a non-profit foundation and we offer programs focused on experiential learning. Our educational program is comprised of academics, co-curricular, and residence life. UWC Costa Rica's mission is to educate a diverse group student leaders to foster positive change in their communities and play a part in attaining a more sustainable and peaceful world.


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Yes, I recommend this program

It's not only amazing because of what you learn but because of the friendships that you gain through meeting people that want to do something to change the world. I have amazing friends in China, which is not something every 17 year old from Costa Rica can say, I learned a lot from them and I'm still learning because we stay in touch. Even with the ones that I was not so close with I can still see what they're doing trough Facebook which inspires me so much. Leaders for change is a very treasured adventure of mine! If I could go back I would definitely do it. It put me to test and changed me for the better. I recommend it for sure, I just don't think anyone could regret taking part of this.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I have a lot of friends who are involved in amazing social and environmental programs and that are currently changing the world for the better. Be it building schools in Nepal for children that lack access to education, or running an organization to power communities in rural areas of Africa with solar panels, or building emergency houses for low-income families in Costa Rica, or simply raising awareness about the impacts of climate change in their own schools back in the United States. Before being part of this incredible program last summer, I had no idea there was even a word for it - social entrepreneurship.

What would you improve about this program?
I felt like two weeks was too short of a time. By the time the usual awkwardness of meeting new people the first days is gone, the program is almost over. If the program cannot be extended for logistical reasons, I would encourage participants (before they arrange their flight tickets back) to contemplate the possibility of staying some extra days after the program finishes to travel in Costa Rica with the other participants and facilitators.
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Yes, I recommend this program

If you want to make good changes to the world and you think that non-profit organizations are not always the best choices because they are not sustainable, then social enterprises are something that you should check out! UWC Costa Rica provides this fantastic opportunity for you to learn about social enterprises and meet friends that have the same interest. And Costa Rica itself is such a magical place that makes you happy and free. It is definitely a perfect choice for your summer!

What would you improve about this program?
Combine the field trip with the courses more so that we can learn from fun.
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Yes, I recommend this program

If you are REMOTELY interested in serving as an agent for social change and learning how to positively impacting your community, you NEED to apply to this program. The material/coursework/tools you acquire are super important, but even more beneficial are the connections you'll make with the other participants. I met some of the most incredible and inspiring people throughout this course, and I learned so much from them in such a short period of time that I decided to write about my experiences in my college essays. Hands-down this was an awesome program, and I'd recommend it to anyone who fits the criteria mentioned above!

What would you improve about this program?
Lengthen it so that you have more time to engage with and learn from the other participants.


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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Allison Bates

Job Title
Outreach Coordinator
Allison moved to Costa Rica in 2011 to work at a small bilingual school in the north of the country coordinating volunteer and internship programs. She fell in love with the country as well as the world of international education and began her current role at UWC Costa Rica in early 2013. As Outreach Coordinator she designs and implements educational extension programming for educators and students on competencies-based content which include themes of conflict transformation, leadership, diversity and more.

wedding party in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Did you intern abroad?!

Allison: I interned abroad with a non-profit organization focused on education and poverty alleviation in Guatemala in 2009. During my time there I primarily worked as a classroom assistant providing homework help to students whose families made a living by scavenging recyclables from the Guatemala City garbage dump.

I found the organization by searching online for volunteering opportunities in Latin America and promptly wrote a grant proposal based on the idea of spending a couple of months there. I won the grant, which was through my undergraduate institution's deans' office, to pursue a project in children's education which then financed my internship.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

Allison: Language learning and cultural immersion is so important because it allows you to understand the world around you. Once you have learned a second (or third! or fourth!) language and spent a significant period of time living in a culture different than your own you can see how culture impacts the decisions of its citizens, politics, economy and more. I am particularly passionate about these things because we live in an increasingly global world and to know and understand different cultures and languages is our future. The more prepared you are for this global transition the better!

waterfall in Mastatal Costa Rica

What does the future hold for UWC Costa Rica - any exciting new programs to share?

Allison: UWC Costa Rica's primary focus is our two-year pre-university program for students from around 65 different countries. This is to say that we are not dedicated tour operators but rather an educational institution that wants to make itself more visible to a wider audience through meaningful interactions with our students, staff and campus. With this in mind we have developed our short course on social entrepreneurship, a variety of workshops and a local camp program.

It's been exciting not only watching these programs develop but also to see the interest from local and international partners increase.

In the future I hope to develop a training institute on the UWC campus which would offer our workshops to both local and international students, educators and professionals. The workshops would center on our competencies program (social responsibility, leadership, conflict transformation, etc) and help build practical skills in participants.

What was your favorite traveling experience?

Allison: The travel experience that changed my life was a trip to Brazil when I was 15 with one of my best friends from high school, Anna. It was my first time to Latin America and I was in love. I was excited by the food, culture, rhythm of lifestyle - pretty much everything. It was then that I began to explore this region of the world more, even going on to study in Argentina and intern in Guatemala. Anna will be quick to tell you that if not for that trip to Brazil there is no way I'd be living in Costa Rica!