The title "Costa Rica: It never happened!"captues the cultivating experience that I had in La Cruz, Costa Rica. One of the girls in my group often quoted "It never happened!" to something amazing that we experience, but had no words to describe it. My trip to Costa Rica did in fact happen, but the empowering message that I recieved from the people there, that family is all that matters, the wonderful people i met and the spark and uniqueness of the culture spiced up my experience. The beauty and sacredness of the country was so amazingly overwhelming that it is almost impossible to believe that I've volunteered there.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
As I looked out the window of the airplane, watching the landscapes slowly disappear beneath me, I knew that I was not dreaming. The steps and application processes needed for acceptance in this program was difficult and tedious. In the end, my hard work was worth it. I received a scholarship from the Farther Fund and the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Foundation that funded my full tuition and made my traveling experience more significant. I was soon to land in Liberia, Costa Rica for a GLA: Spanish and Service Adventure. GLA stands forGlobal Leadership Adventures, this program helped me further develop my leadership skills and step outside of my comfort zone considering that I never traveled outside the country alone. Arriving at the airport, I anxiously awaited to spot a group of 33 bright red GLA shirts. This diverse group of students would be the people I spend the next three weeks with in Costa Rica.
The first weeks of Costa Rica were filled with many adventures and opportunities to learn about their culture and helping in their community, whether it be playing in the local high schools soccer game or walking to the Super Compro communicating with the local people. Not knowing what to expect when I arrived, I realized that this little country was more industrialized and more beautiful than I imagined. During those three weeks I spent with my GLA family, we taught at a local school near La Cruz and taught the children English, we also helped build a nice cafeteria for the children to comfortably dine. Ironically, we learned that the school children were on break at the time of our service. This shocked me because every day children came to learn and share memories with a group of outsiders. I appreciated their dedication to learn and strive for a higher education. Their determination ultimately excited me to wake up early every morning to go work with them. The hardest part was leaving their cheery smiles and amazing personalities on the last day of the program.
Costa Ricans are very nice people and a majority of them live very simple lives. In the United States, some may think that the Costa Ricans do not have anything of monetary value or anything at all. I learned in my experiences that their motivations and values in life are simple living and “Pura Vida!” meaning the love of life. After learning this, I became more grateful for what I have and do not take anything for granted. Whenever anyone asks me about Costa Rica and what I liked about it, I simply responded "everything." It was amazing to experience and live in a culture not very different from my own. There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve and give back to a community knowing you may have changed someone's life. This program motivated me to be a part of many organizations and groups, and to travel to other countries for volunteer opportunities and much more.