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    Posted March 14, 2014 by
    San Jose, Costa Rica
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    Lessons from a Sloth in Costa Rica

    I am a recipient of the U.S. Department of State sponsored Gilman Scholarship, and I’m currently studying abroad in Costa Rica with a few very good sloth friends.

    I admire sloths, not because they’re notorious for sleeping (although I like sleep as much as the next college student), but because they represent the sort of community I want to be a part of. The sloth is a walking ecosystem, an integrated community of different species and lifestyles. Their fur is home to moths, fungi, and algae, all of which help each other stay alive.

    Studying in Costa Rica has changed my perspective of community. It’s not just an added perk of life; it’s an essential network of it. The communities in Costa Rica are supportive, sharing childcare and exchanging Pura Vidas. They’re accepting; I watched a married couple vote for opposing presidential candidates and the difference only strengthened their relationship.

    The communities I’ve experienced while abroad are eager to contribute to my academic investigation of the dengue virus. (And by the way, in controlling dengue, a community effort is most effective.) Somewhere, a sloth is hanging from a branch smiling. It has known the essence of community all along.
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