Hi mom, dad, and loved ones!
Can you believe it? 64 of us teenagers have successfully flown from all over the United States and Mexico to gather together in Parrita, Costa Rica! Some of us came as siblings, a few of us came with a friend or two, and many of us came as solo travelers. Regardless of who we were on that airplane when we left from home, part of us each know that we won’t be that exact same student when we return in just a brief nine days from now.
Though we might not be able to predict in what ways our minds will change, how new friendships will be established, or even what fears we currently have that we might overcome, we do know that our experiences working here in this incredible Tico Community will prepare us to be a better version of ourselves in the future. Thank you for giving us this opportunity! We can’t wait to keep you updated on all that we will encounter! Goodnight for now, tomorrow’s adventure of service in jungles and schools awaits!
Your GLA students and staff from Costa Rica: Beachside Service Adventure
**Annie L. is not pictured because she arrived late last night. She is with the group and more pics will be coming soon!!!
July 11, 2017– Orientation Activities
The morning began on a hot and humid day with breakfast at 7:00 a.m. When our “service groups” broke off we started on our adveture of a bus ride about a mile away. Our Costa Rican guide Mao showed us all of the plants that prevent beach erosion and the drastic affects it has caused. Lifes have been disturbed and destroyed when the beaches high tide reach the home front. As ice caps and glaciers continue to melt the seas continue to rise and are slowly disapearring.
As we reach our destination accompanied by breathtaking views we get off the bus to begin our intriduction to our service. This involved talking to a few locals whom are directly affected as the high tide is almost at their doorstep. On our walk back we collected almond and mangrove sapplings. The plan is to plant these sapplings back at our home base, Hotel La Isla, in a nursery that has previously been made in the back of the property. The nursery will help prevent future beach erosion. Our first step started with clearing out all weeds and other grasses. Then, we began to place the seedlings previously colleced from our morning adventure into small black bags to prepare them to be planted. Though the nursery we work on will make a difference, it also raises awareness for all to see how critical the issues of climate change are.
-Britney Facenda, Serena Samson
July 13, 2017
First excursion day!!! The first half of the day we had zip lining, hiking, tubing, horseback riding, some relaxation, and cleaning up the beach. Many people conquered fears, be it heights, horses, or rapids! I know I learned that the more work you put in, the better the view is. And it’s always worth it! We got to pass by the palm oil trees, which are the main export of Costa Rica. Then after everyone arrived back at home base, we had a mini soccer tournament! (Go alfalfa!!) we had to rush though, our fields quickly turned into water soccer with high tide approaching. We had an amazing dance lesson from some students from a local high school, where we learned how to salsa, merengue, and bachata. We ended with a huge dance circle with everyone dripping in sweat. They stayed for dinner, and I learned that one of the dancers, Christian, wants to be a computer programmer/app designer in San Francisco! We got to practice our Spanish, while they practiced their English. It was a full day. I’ll end with the quote of the day, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of ones lifetime.” – Mark Twain (via Davis Langhoff)
Photos by Brittney Facenda
July 16, 2017
Whenever I first came to Hotel La Isla in Parrita, Costa Rica, I had no idea what to expect. I waited for weeks anticipating the adventures and experiences I would have to endure in the 10 days. Not to mention feeling homesick, it being my first time out of the country.
Now, it is Day 6 and all of my worries have gone away. GLA is such a unique experience. You get to experience the culture of the local people. By doing this, I have come to understand my place in the world as well as the people around me. By traveling to another country, I no longer thought of my city as the “center of the world.” There are so many other cultures you can learn from. You compare your culture to theirs and realize that although they are different, they also so similar at the same time.
One major difference is the language. I am an incoming Freshman and I have only had 2 years of Spanish. In those years, I realize how much I have NOT learned. When placed in a community that only speaks that specific language, the amount of knowledge you lack is quite surprising. By talking with upperclassmen and my mentors, one thing they say stays in common: you learn so much more about a language by being an outsider to a community that speaks the language then by being an outsider to one person who speaks that language.
Even if you speak similar languages, you can still learn a lot from different cultures of people. Not only have I learned so much from people native to a foreign country, I have learned from people who live in my home country. The people that come to GLA are very diverse. There are people from Florida to Colorado and from California to Indiana. I am very surprised that by spending time with people in a foreign country, you learn way more about your home country than you could ever imagine.
The people on this trip, although diverse, all have one thing in common: we are all in a foreign country. You would be surprised by how much you can connect with people through that one similarity. Making new friends is one of the best things about this trip. I came into this trip scared thinking I would spend an entire week and a half with strangers, but the funny thing is the more you spend time with those strangers they become acquaintances, then they become friends. I have made more friends with diverse cultures then I would have ever imagined. GLA has so many opportunities to meet new, lasting friends.
One of these opportunities are “Adventures.” By taking these adventures you accomplish two things: bonding and having a good time. By having a good time, you bond closer to the people who are also having a good time. Our adventures range from water tubbing down a raging river to galloping through the Costa Rican jungles on a trusty steed.
Another opportunity is service, or mentor groups. When you arrive at GLA you are put into selected groups. In these groups, you do service and learn more and more about leadership. I have really bonded with my mentor group. They are all just so cool people with the same goal: service. (Not to mention, Callie is the best mentor by far.)
The service we do is truly helping the community. Before we came to Costa Rica, our mentors went around the community and asked what THEY needed. My mentor group is working on a recycling center for a local school. The school is only one classroom and has around 10ish kids. We had to design this and build all within a week and a half. Although the task may seem daunting at first, when people are united with a common goal of helping people and give 100%, no task is impossible. Our mentor group really bonds by building. Keep in mind, we do not have ANY power tools. We depend on each other and to get the job done. For instance, in my group I am excellent at sawing through wood, but terrible at hammering nails. People depend on me to saw and I depend on others hammer. We bond through these dependencies and make ever lasting memories.
Overall, regardless of what I am doing at Costa Rica, I am so surprised by how much I have learned and experienced here. My mindset about what I thought was going to happen and what did happen were two completely different things. I have made great friends and great memories here in Costa Rica and I would not have changed it for the world.
(P.S. Props to my Junior High Literature Teacher because without her I would have no idea how to do this blog)
July 17, 2017
I am very fortunate to have been born into a loving family, a beautiful home, and a welcoming school community. Most of the time I can appreciate these gifts, but as I met more and more students on this trip, I have seen and related to the the groans and grumbles of having nothing to do in your home town or being bored with the same routine during every school year. I had fallen into practices of completing tasks just for the sake of getting them done, and I had never done a meaningful project in my own community. I could not have honestly explained my home town as a pillar of importance in my life, however on one of my first nights here, a man from Parrita named Maurillio came to give a presentation that changed my perspective. He came to educate us about the surrounding area and its points of interest, and in his presentation he spoke with pride and marveled about the unique features of his country. At first I was jealous that he grew up in such a beautiful beachside location, but on my last day of service I finally understood where its true value came from.
This morning we stood in front of an endless pile of rotting wood and leaves that needed to be cleared in order to add to the nursery being built to help with reforestation efforts. We began working and after a day of sweat, Mau’s blood, and more bugs and crabs than any of us could have possibly been prepared for, I was astonished at what we had completed. I stooped over to get every last root and make sure that we had raked over every area; I wanted to make sure that our long day of work was a job well done. Not only was our task difficult, but working with my hands in a way I never had before gave me a newfound sense of power and capability. I stepped back and was overcome with pride. What I am beginning to understand is that while gifts can give you with gratitude, hard work that can earn you pride.
July 18, 2017