Dear Future Self,
5 years from now hopefully you are married and traveling the world with your spouse (LOL). If not, I am sure you will be traveling with your friends or family. In the moments you take a minute to look around the gorgeous country you are in I hope you think back to your first experience abroad in Costa Rica during the summer of your junior year. This experience was the eye-opening one you needed to no longer fear traveling the world. In the days before the trip you were uncomfortable with the uncertainty of what was to come. The notion of a cold shower everyday plus living in the jungle gave you anxiety. Constantly contemplating what the sea turtle patrols consisted of, if your legs could really withstand a 6-hour hike, and if your mom and you truly were able to survive 3 weeks without one another. But, as soon as the plane landed in San Jose you were ready to take on the full ACE experience and the worries subsided.
Each week brought new challenges emotionally, physically, mentally but you got through it, learned from it, and most importantly enjoyed it! The essence of community within the Gandoca town made you appreciate your own. Participating in the soccer tournaments with the community elders and children allowed you to feel part of something bigger than yourself. The gratitude given from your community leaders (Braulio, Navid, and Andray) and program leaders (Melissa, Jo, and Indie) inspired you to continue to put on a positive attitude each day to help clean up the schools for hours, get spider bites from cacao farming, and shove the nervous feeling away from practicing Spanish with the locals. The reward of impact alone made it all worth it. You helped the growth of the town continue! Furthermore, realizing you can survive off-grid with no service in an indigenous community allows you to know there’s more to the world than what a tiny screen can offer. Nature is your friend! There is always a creature that can spark interest, thunderstorms are lovely ways to cool off and enjoy your thoughts, and being alone sometimes is not so bad.
ACE in Costa Rica was an answered prayer you needed to help in the development of yourself. It is exactly why you are open-minded to whatever unfamiliar land exists. An unfamiliar country heals you in ways you never knew existed because the realm of opportunities are endless to help discover different layers of you. It is the reason why you are so keen to travel with loved ones so they can find new versions of themselves. So future self, please continue to travel the entire world. There is growth to be made within yourself. A new country you are traveling to awaits your energy. Be thankful for ACE in Costa Rica for opening the door of possibility for you!