More recently I have been following the case of a young lady, a student from the U of Massachusetts Amherst, who was raped in Costa Rica. Not so unusual except the young lady was attending studies at the Monteverde Institute (MVI) at the time and was on only a brief vacation for the Thanksgiving break.

Before taking care of the victim’s needs and before making sure she never contracted an STD or even HIV, nor was pregnant; before going after the #$@&* who did the deed, MVI decided to play the CYA (cover your ass) game which is all too often the case in Costa Rica.

Apparently MVI really does not have a plan or process for rape victims and I question if it has protocol to administer any other exchange student catastrophe such as theft, murder, etc.

The Tico Times has a solid article about what took place, albeit complex to understand, along with a link that ultimately cancels out one more university clients and one more international exchange companies from doing business in Costa Rica.

Two professors who went to the aide of the young lady and purchased large amounts of contraceptives plus antibiotics. Subsequently the director of MVI fired both of them for not acting within protocol which was or is what?

How many of these student exchange programs have thought out appropriate responses for rape, robbery, murder, drugs, etc? Few if any at all.

I telephoned three and none really had a definitive emergency plan for health and crime for an exchange student who came to Pura Vida with great expectations. Moreover, none had a CPR qualified person on staff or on call.

I have, in my morbid mind, concluded that most of these programs are promoted by little more than unprepared tour companies and literally scamming young people into paying for a semester or year away from the rigid collegiate community of their universities.

However I hope that I am wrong!

Taking this one step further, these so called volunteer and internships where the person needs to pay in order to be a good person makes no sense to me. And, they proliferate the Internet with offers to work in rural areas, digging up pineapples, living with a local family to learn Spanish and enjoying the national foods…at a price.

Why would I pay to volunteer? Why in the world would I pay to make this a better place to live?

MVI is not like that at all. It has credentials and, in my opinion only this latest incident serves to illustrate the lack of planning and the importance, if not critical goal of putting the student first, before the institution.