Today we took a trip to CATIE, which is “a regional center dedicated to research and graduate education in agriculture, and the management, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources” (CATIE). While CATIE is similar to Earth University in a number of ways, there are also very important differences between the two centers of higher learning. Similar to EARTH, CATIE has a program in agronomics, but differs in the fact that the school offers more options for their graduate students, sustainable tourism being the newest addition to the program’s repertoire. CATIE is focused on research, education and outreach, similar to EARTH.
CATIE is a graduate school, whereas EARTH provides undergraduate education. Consequently, CATIE’s student enrollment is far smaller than that of EARTH; at any given time during the year there is anywhere from 60-120 students enrolled in courses, whereas EARTH has approximately 120 students per graduating class. Both schools place an emphasis on community engagement and outreach; EARTH requires students to hold internships during their third year of school, and CATIE requires students to enroll in a course where the grade is given based on the community’s assessment of the impact of the student’s project.
After CATIE, we headed to the International Cacao Collection, where we got to see how cacao plants are grafted in an attempt to grow a plant that is resistant to the diseases that threaten the plant. Below is a picture of a tree that has been created from 3 different trees, meaning two grafts had been successfully completed.
One of the neatest fruits I have discovered in the past year has to be the cacao fruit. It’s intriguing texture and flavor create such an interesting experience, and I can already tell I’m going to miss having the chance to eat it (and other Costa Rican staples) when I get back to the US.
ps- a fun fact I learned today from Adrianna, our tour guide: The Costa Rican government tried to implement street names and street numbers but it failed; most Costa Ricans give directions based on landmarks. Signage was meant for tourists, and so it didn’t take off. That’s why there are very few ways to orient yourself if you’re unfamiliar with the area! Luckily our bus driver, Berto, has a photographic memory. Thanks to his years of experience, he says he knows 90% of the country!