In 1997 artist and traveler Zach McDuffie had a dream about the ocean that inspired him to move to Costa Rica. His goal was simple – live a healthy life, make art, learn to surf, and learn Spanish. Realizing that a lot of other travelers were seeking the same, he came up with the concept for the School of the World. School of the World was the first learning vacation school in the world to offer combined Spanish and Surfing courses, and continues to set trends for cool, creative, and affordable learning vacations to travelers of all ages. The school’s innovative programs have been featured in guidebooks, magazines, and newspapers from the U.S.A. to Hong Kong.
Great learning vacation programs are just the beginning. What really makes time here a special experience is the staff. Our staff functions like a family; most have been working here for more than five years and all are passionate about their work.
Brian and Zach have been good friends since their days at the University of Georgia. He came to Costa Rica with Zach in 1996, but returned to UGA and continued on to earn a masters degree in forest management, before moving to Costa Rica permanently in 2001. Brian is in charge of the day-to-day operations at the school. He speaks English and Spanish and enjoys spending time with his family, surfing, woodworking, and fishing.
Head Surf Instructor
Christian is originally from Margarita Island in Venezuela. He has been surfing for over 14 years and has been teaching surf for 8. Christian began working for the school in early 2013 and is always stoked to get in the water and show students how to surf. He really loves what he does and will go that extra mile to ensure his students learn to surf and have a great time. His interests include surfing, mountain biking, running, and playing guitar.
Head Photography, Surf Instructor
Carlos is an accomplished Costa Rican artist, photographer, and surfer. He started working at the School of the World in January of 2006. He is certified in ocean safety and rescue, as well as CPR. He has exhibited his art in San Jose, Miami, and New York. In his spare time he enjoys surfing, skating, photography, painting, and fishing. Carlos also teaches some of the specialty photography and editing workshops.
Head Spanish Instructor
Lyda is our head Spanish instructor. She loves to cook, dance, and have fun when she’s not teaching.
Head Yoga Instructor
Alejandra is from San Jose, Costa Rica. She began practicing yoga at an early age and realized she wanted to dedicate her life to this discipline. Her foundations are Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Anusara Yoga. Alejandra is always deepening her practice, and travels to India yearly to study directly with the masters. She brings what she learns back to Costa Rica to share with our staff and guests.
Esteban is from Jaco and has been surfing his whole life. He is in charge of all our of boards and loves to find great boards for our students to use. In his free time he surfs, and spends time with his girlfriend and his family.
Photography, Surf Instructor
Ivan was born in Nicaragua and grew up in San Jose, Costa Rica. City life wasn’t what Ivan was looking for so he moved to Jaco and learned to surf. He began working for the school in 2011 as a surf instructor. Later on he started helping Carlos with the Photo and eventually became our second photo and video teacher. He films and edits all of our surf video analysis sessions. In his spare time Ivan enjoys skateboarding, surfing, photography and making art.
Catalina is from San Jose, Costa Rica and has lived in Playa Jaco since 2003. Her foundation is in Vinyasa flow with an inspiration in anusada alignment. In her free time she likes to read and spend time with her two kids.
Maria is Costa Rican and has been with the School of the World since the beginning, back in 1997. Maria has seen the business grow from humble beginnings and takes a lot of pride in her work environment. If you are lucky you might be around when she cooks her famous arroz con pollo!
Victoria was born and raised nearby in Herradura and prior to working at the school she had been doing housekeeping in Escondida. She is the proud mother of three grown children and in her spare time enjoys listening to music and dancing salsa and merengue. Sometimes you’ll hear wonderful voice singing as she cleans and cares for the school.
Pedro is originally from Nicaragua but has lived in Costa Rica for fifteen years. He enjoys playing chess and going to the discoteca in his free time. Pedro works hard to keep the place running smoothly and it seems like there is nothing he can’t build, fix or repair.
Check out all the fun we’re having, right now, at the School of the World!