As the Monteverde Institute celebrates its 29th anniversary it is a pleasure to reflect on our simple beginnings, all the endeavors since, and the bright future ahead.
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As the Monteverde Institute celebrates its 29th anniversary it is a pleasure to reflect on our simple beginnings, all the endeavors since, and the bright future ahead. Over the last years the Institute has been host to over 7,000 students, dozens of influential studies, as well as representing a communal space for the people of Monteverde.
The Monteverde Institute advances sustainable living at the local and global level through place-based education, applied research, and collaborative community programs.
By 1985, Monteverde was watching itself undergo large changes. It had officially been discovered around the world for its incredible natural surroundings and the lush space available for research. Two international publications had featured stories exploring the wonder of Monteverde. As a response, tourists began to come. The rapid growth of the tourist industry left local residents concerned, and considering options for “guiding” the types of travelers to Monteverde.
A solution was proposed: Fewer visitors for longer periods of time through educational programs. John Trostle and Nalini Nadkarni recognized there was an opportunity and a need for undergraduate students to come to Monteverde. Discussions began with Henry Weaver, of the Education Abroad Program in the University of California system, who was already a Monteverde enthusiast and had been visiting the area for some time.
After three Town Hall style meetings with many members of the community, a consensus was reached that the Institute could facilitate a more meaningful form of tourism: studying abroad. The Institute would also give back to the community through service-learning projects and cultural exchange.
In 1986 our founders had the forsight to place emphasis on a sustainable future.
Our Legacy Mission directs the Monteverde Institute to pursue the following goals:
I) To provide educational opportunities that explore the ways in which human beings can work toward a sustainable future. These educational opportunities will be based on the particular setting, resources and example of the Montevede community and surrounding area.
II) To integrate all the programs and infrastructure of Monteverde in such a way that is congruent with the vision of a sustainable future.
III) To coordinate its own programs with the programs of other organizations and projects.
IV) To extend the benefits of its programs to a wider community, adopting local educational initiatives.
And further, The Monteverde Institute is a public service, non-profit association, dedicated to peace, justice, knowledge and the vision of a sustainable future. It provides programs which promote the appreciation of diversity and community, spirituality and the well-being of living beings. These opportunities are designed for people from other countries and Costa Rica and for the residents of the Monteverde community and the surrounding zone.
The Monteverde Institute hosted its first group of students from the Universities of California system in the Spring of 1987. The same year they began home-stay families. Nalini Nadkarni and her husband, Jack Longino, also a former Monteverde researcher led the first group. Coincidentally, Jack and Nalini met and fell in love here.
A large concern for the Founders of MVI was how the Institute might give back to the community. One answer was found in the Homestay family program, a very important component of studying abroad in Monteverde. Students may spend anywhere from two weeks to four months with their families, but regardless of the duration, it is always a meaningful experience.
A tradition of artistic and cultural presentations has been a part of Monteverde Institute since its beginnings. The first education abroad program students left their mark with songs that the community still remembers today. An example is the 12 Days of Monteverde rendition of the Christmas song. A few students from the first Goucher/Mt. Holyoke program decided to learn and perform in costume the traditional styles of campesino dance found in Costa Rica.
As the Monteverde Institute looks towards the future, there are exciting programs and projects on the horizon. The tradition of education for a sustainable future with a focus on service learning and community engagement will continue. Beyond its own goals, Monteverde Institute is contributing to the vision of the Monteverde Zone communities being an example and a leader for sustainable community.
The history of Monteverde Institute has been documented by Dr. Leslie Burlingame. Leslie is a science and environmental historian who has been visiting Monteverde since 1991. In 1992 Leslie attended a short course on rainforest ecology and conservation through the Monteverde Institute and began research on conservation organizations in Costa Rica, including the MVI. Some of her findings appeared in Narkarni and Wheelwright (eds.), Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest. She is a retired professor in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. and writes histories of MVI and other conservation and educational organizations in Monteverde.
We are pleased to present her work here.