Cloud Forest Program

Swarthmore has developed a field based program at The Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica, a bilingual K-12 school serving local children in Monteverde.  The school's core curriculum focuses on promoting academic excellence within a framework of environmental education.  Its goal is "to encourage a new generation of ecologically aware, bilingual people with the skills and motivation to make educated land use decisions and create positive changes."  It is a school that uses child centered, progressive forms of curriculum and instruction that mirror the kind of work we encourage students to think about here at Swarthmore. The program of study for the semester abroad would include a full time 4-5 month internship at the school (3 credits) and an Intercultural credit consisting of Spanish language instruction and an independent field work project (1 credit).  The program is available to students at any level of Spanish (including those who have no prior Spanish instruction).  Students must have taken Education 14, Introduction to Education, in order to receive Education credit for the Internship.

The Cloud Forest School and Monteverde

The Cloud Forest School is a private non-sectarian K-11 school established in 1991 and located a mile high in the Tilarán Mountains of northern Costa Rica.  It currently serves over 200 students 94% of whom are Costa Rican.  Monteverde is composed of an intercultural group of Costa Ricans, foreign residents and tourists drawn to the tropical ecosystem that surrounds the town.  The 26,000 acre Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve is surrounded by the 40,000 acre international children's forest.  The school is consciously focused on helping children in the community become aware of and responsive to the natural surroundings and community within which they live.

Internship (3.0 credits)

The Cloud Forest School accepts full-time interns, who work as classroom assistants for four to five months beginning in either September or January.  Interns work as a full-time classroom assistant, an assistant to the special education teacher, or an assistant to the environmental education teacher. Students receive 3.0 credits from Educational Studies for a full time internship and by completing department requirements.

Intercultural credit (1.0 credits)

Students can receive 1.0 Intercultural credit by completing Spanish language instruction at the Centro Panamericano de Idomas (CPI), credited through New Mexico State University.  

Living arrangements

The school arranges homestays with families that include a furnished room, food, and laundry service.  The town of Monteverde has a health clinic and care for any serious health concerns is available in San Jose.  Monteverde itself is a small, safe and very welcoming town.

Application process

Application materials for the Internship and the New Mexico State University language credits are available through the office of Foreign Study and at for the internship. Intern applicants must complete the application form provided and send it with a resume, a letter of intent, two letters of recommendation and an application fee of $75.  The school will notify applicants of their acceptance.