By: Anthony Chamberlain, PhD., ICADS Director
The 30th Anniversary of ICADS is an appropriate time to celebrate the Institute’s accomplishments, pay tribute to its many contributors, and recognize the ways ICADS has evolved with and adapted to our changing world.
In many ways, ICADS was founded when Central America was quite different from the Central America of today. In 1986 the Cold War was at its height, and the fear was pervasive that communism would infiltrate the United States through it’s “back door.” The triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1979 did nothing to ease the fears of United States policymakers.
In this tension-filled context ICADS was born. The pillars of its mission were to educate North American students about Central America via experiences with Central Americans, to support local organizations committed to social justice and sustainable development, and to explore the region from a historical perspective.
By many standards, Costa Rica has also changed significantly since then. In 1986, Costa Rica’s population was 3 million. Thirty years later Costa Rica hosts 5 million. Since the 1980s, the number of vehicles on Costa Rican roads has risen an astounding 918%, and each year Costa Rica’s GDP and other macroeconomic indicators continue to grow. Yet by other standards, not much has changed in the past 30 years. The poverty remains right around 25%, and all of Central America is still dealing with the implications of transnational policies largely beyond its control.
As Costa Rica, Central America, and the world have changed, so ICADS has evolved to remain relevant. Two thousand students later, ICADS remains committed to its mission from 30 years ago of creating a place for open dialogue, cultural exchange, and learning. ICADS alumni contributions to the world are many.
In these pages you will find reflections from students, professors, host families, and others who have been impacted by their ICADS experience and who continue to be the backbone of ICADS’ programs. They share their insights and thoughts about what ICADS has meant to them, and how they have been changed as well. We also include an impressive list of some of the projects that ICADS students have completed over these 30 years.
We hope that these pages (see: 30thAnniversary) provide positive memories for those who participated in and support ICADS, and inspiration for those who are considering engaging the transformative potential bound up in an ICADS experience.
Thank you to all who have been a part of ICADS over the past 30 years. We are excited to see what the next 30 have in store!