My dear Session III students,
I write to you by the pool at Hotel La Isla, with the beats of reggaeton echoing across the courtyard and the cicadas at full pitch. Tomorrow the students from Session IV fly out, and it is hard to believe you have been gone from here nearly two weeks.
By the time you read this, you will be deep inside your fall. Perhaps you will have forgotten some of our inside jokes, or gone on to another fabulous vacation. Perhaps you’ve been busy with college applications and athletics schedules. But in this Time Capsule, I want to call you back to Isla Palo Seco, to that furious shoreline, to bright hammocks and big ideas about leadership and service.
I want you to remember what it felt like the first time you finished watching Poverty Inc.: all of the questions you found yourself asking, and a few of the answers you moved towards. Remember the vibrant pink and turquoise houses of Parrita, what it feels like to sing reggaeton on a bus with your friends, and the joy of slicing through the waves after dolphins on a Catamaran. Remember your dinner conversations about Peace Corps, about AmeriCorps, about Teach for America and GLA’s Tanzania trip and gap year programs. Remember how big the world felt then, and how full of opportunity for you.
Remember all the moments work was hard at your site and you kept going, working with team members who became friends. Remember your clothing flecked with paint or sodden with mud. Remember the green gnarls of jungle at Manuel Antonio, and the warm, salty water at that beach, and how fries or milkshakes had never tasted so good. Remember the bravery of those who spoke at the Story Slam and the hilarity of some of the boys doing their dance at the end of the trip. Remember standing in one big circle with our elbows threaded, honoring the best in each other with props.
You were only in Costa Rica ten days, but I believe each of you took with you a bit of the pura vida life. In Costa Rica, you were brave and adventurous. You zipped through a forest canopy, tubed down a frothing river, and saddled up on a horse. You told your Story of Self to near-strangers and they became friends for life. You let someone lead you around with a bandanna across your eyes, trying to recapture a Bucket of your Dreams. And most of all, you examined what you had been told about the world and service. How would you answer that question now: What is development? Where are you seeing single stories around you? How will you be of service to the world in the future? What stories have you told about Costa Rica, and how can you keep telling them in ways that are meaningful and nuanced?
Have you become the change you want to see in the world?
We miss you here in Parrita, dear Session III, but we also want you out there, connecting with your home communities and planning your next travels. Go be your biggest selves—and please stay in touch if you need anything.
All our best,
Kati and the rest of the crew at Beachside Service Adventure