Posts Tagged ‘research’

I recently spent 8 days in Costa Rica with a group of extension professionals from 10 other states learning about the culture and the history of the country. I have to say it was one of the most wonderful experiencosta-rica-country-side.jpgces of my life. You might think, OF COURSE, how could being in a tropical paradise not be wonderful?! Especially since Ohio and much of the Midwest has been experiencing unpredictable weather, to say the least. But, the weather aside, the whole journey was full of wonderful experiences.

This trip was not about sitting on the beach or in the mountains at some all-inclusive resort basking in the sun or the mountain air. It was about immersing ourselves in the culture of the country and getting outside of our comfort zone to learn about people, who at first glance may appear to be different from us and what we know. As we traveled around the country to the various locations (we stayed in 4 different accommodations), we were able to gain a better understanding of how the Ticos (native Costa Ricans) live and work.

Our group of 33 were divided into smaller subgroups for different activities throughout the week. We went on a variety of outings designed to increase our cultural awareness and to challenge us in our leadership philosophies and ideas. Our first task was to go to the Central Market in San Jose to check prices of various items and purchase them (we donated all the items to different organizations we later visited). We then had to compare the cost of these items as they relate to the average minimumgreen-house-e1524004828723.jpg wage in the United States versus in Costa Rica. While the cost of the items was somewhat comparable to prices in the U.S., when you look at the minimum wages, the discrepancy was very large. This required us to think about the proportion of the wages in Costa Rica that go toward necessities versus the proportion in the U.S.

The Central Market outing was just the first of many that would challenge us to achieve a common goal while trying to overcome the language barrier in this foreign country. As we traveled around Costa Rica and participated in different activities, the most overarching theme that our entire group observed was how patient and gracious all of the Ticos we encountered were with our groups. Few of us were able to speak and/or understand Spanish, so at times, there was a lot of patience required. Every group related that the Ticos were incredibly helpful, patient and gracious.

A large part of this leadership program involves reflecting on the experiences and lessons we have learned. As we reflected in our large group and in smaller groups, we all wondered what someone traveling to the United States would experience. How would any of us handle trying to communicate with someone who does not speak English or at least not well? Would we have the same patience and understanding that the Ticos had with us? I can honestly say that before this trip, the answer for me would be no. I would not have had the patience and understanding that was shown to me and the others. One of the things I have taken away from this experience is to have more patience. Patience with others, but also patience with myself.

While this trip was for business, when I travel for personal reasons, I try to make it a point to find local places to eat and shop. My Costa Rica experience has taught me that I can do more to enrich my travel experiences. I have not usually lodged in places that allow me to experience the local culture as much as some others might. I will make a more concerted effort to choose places that allow me to have a more immersive experience, since one of the main reasons I like to travel is to be expcosta-rica-food.jpgosed to local culture and to learn about the people and the area.

So, whether you are traveling across the state, across the country, or across the globe, challenge yourself to experience at least a little bit of the local culture. You may just learn some things about yourself by experiencing things that are unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable to you.


WRITTEN BY: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.417@osu.edu

REVIEWED BY: Amanda, Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

PHOTO CREDIT: Misty Harmon





Click to access Research_Fact-Sheet_Travel-Jobs.pdf


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Confused about conflicting nutrition information?  Know where to find reliable nutrition facts based on sound research, or do you feel like you’re swimming in a sea of sharks?

With the advancement of technology, consumers face a daily barage of  “scientific” discoveries, ancient remedies, and miracle weight-loss diets from various media outlets. But how is a person able to identify credible information from false claims?  Overall, how do you stay up-to-date on nutrition and how it affects health?

If you’re like most people, you rely on poplular media – newspapers, television, magazines and the internet – to provide you with the latest nutrition news.  Many people even rely on these channels of information over their health care professional.  For your own good health, it’s worth your time to locate credible sources of information and be able to judge for yourself the value of sound nutrition advice.

When Do We Need Nutrition Advice?  Every day!  However, there are times when you need more information, such as if you…

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have trouble with infant or child feeding
  • Are an “extreme” athlete
  • Have struggled trying to lose or gain weight
  • Are caring for an older parent
  • Want to change your eating habits to help prevent diesease
  • Would like to eat smart to stay healthy

If you’re frequently on the internet, you know how much misinformation proliferates in cyberspace.  Nutrition is no exception; thousands of new blogs, chat rooms, and nutrition-related Web sites appear each year.  Some may be credible and provide sound eating advice, but others may not be science-based.  How can you identify a Web site you can trust?  Ask youself the following:

  1. Who is the sponsor or owner of the site?  Look at the three-letter suffix on the Web address.  If it ends in .edu, it is an educational institution.  A site that ends in .gov is a government agency and a site that is owned by a non-profit organization will have .org  at the end.  These three sites tend to the most credible.  Those sites that end in .com are commerical sites; be sure to scrutinize information from these sites with care.
  2. Does the site have have regular updates?  How current is the information?  Credible sites reflect current research.  Be cautious; being current doesn’t make it totally accurate.
  3. Is the site trying to sell you something?  Is it promoting a specific product?  These can be warning signs for bias.
  4. Does the Web site provide cited sources, or is it based on opinions?  Scientific findings should support the information provided for consumers.

Learn how to be your own judge of nutrition information.  When reading a book or the newspaper, identify the author and his or her qualifications.  Are they affiliated with an accredited institution that offers research?  Ask yourself why the information was published, and if the advice is credible.  Was a study conducted that led to the recommendations?  If so, learn more about the study itself  – was it a long-term study with a large group of people?  What were the characteristics (age, gender, etc.) of the people?  Do other studies support these findings?  Become familiar with the meaning of words used in research.  For example,  “contributes to” does not mean that it “causes”.

When in doubt, check with your health care professional, registered dietitian, or your local library or university.  Hospitals, public health, and your Extension office are other reliable resources.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Submitted by:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

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