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Costa Rican alumni network gives back to IB schools

On recent weekends in Costa Rica, groups of dedicated IB alumni can be found immersing themselves in IB communities throughout Costa Rica. The IB Alumni Network in Costa Rica developed an initiative called Conociendo Costa Rica, or Exploring Costa Rica, to inspire and engage prospective and current IB students.


Alumni members and students from Liceo de Bagaces pose in front of their completed mural.

Headed by Ignacio López A., the IB Alumni Network in Costa Rica was established in 2012 and has over 100 active members. Since its founding, the group has focused on three main three goals: giving back to the community, promoting professional development, and creating a nationwide, active network of IB alumni. In an effort to combine these goals into a single project, López and other network members “came up with the idea that we would visit schools and also take a tour of the community.” This idea has spread into a project called Conociendo Costa Rica, in which IB alumni take weekend trips to public IB schools throughout the country to promote the IB Diploma Programme and encourage students.

On the first day of the three-day school visits, alumni members meet with teachers, administrators, and both current and prospective IB students. López says this provides an opportunity for alumni members to serve as role models and encourage the students. IB alumnus Mauricio Mangel Raventos says, “it’s incredibly inspiring to see how excited and determined the students go into the IB programme.”

But the hallmark of the trip doesn’t begin until later in the evening when students and alumni join together to create a mural at the school. “We decided to paint murals, they are very simple to make and if placed in the right place they can make quite an impact,” said López. The alumni members and students create vibrant, colourful murals at the schools to highlight the IB Diploma Programme. For alumnus Daniel Gutiérrez G., the mural was the highlight of his school visit, calling it a “thrilling idea that you are part of a much larger movement that’s striving to leave a positive footprint.”


Alumni members explore a local waterfall while visiting Liceo de Bagaces.

Finally, on the third day, alumni members from the community take the visiting alumni on an outing within the community. In the past, this has included many outdoor activities, such as picnics, going on hikes, and visiting volcanoes and waterfalls. As a result of these trips, IB alumnus Esther Mariela believes the IB alumni group has developed stronger relationships. Mariela reflects, “Now we are an IB community, and we are closer to each other.”

At present, 55 alumni members have visited two schools, Liceo de Bagaces and Liceo de Poás. IB alumna Stephanie Murillo González has participated in the school visits, and hopes to “inspire the students to keep studying and not to quit.” More alumni are expected to become involved with the two additional IB World School visits that have been scheduled to take place.

Looking forward, López hopes to expand Conociendo Costa Rica beyond just schools and incorporate the mission into the communities. “I would like to recognize the effort the group of alumni is making everyday to make these ideas more than just a thought and turn them into a reality.”

Contributing author Kari Lorentson is writing about the experience of IB graduates at universities around the world. Lorentson studies at American University and previously attended Fishers High School. Contact her at [email protected].