Dear Beachside Service Adventurers,
The summer is quickly coming to a close as we prepare for our last two groups of students here at La Isla. Looking back on the summer, it seems like just yesterday and yet a lifetime ago that you were walking through arrivals at SJO with those bright blue shirts on. As our first group of students, you all hold a special place in our hearts here in Parrita. You were the first GLAers to lay in the hammocks out front. The first to tromp the sands for trash cleanup and beach soccer and a sunrise walk with Mark. The first to tackle our leadership curriculum head-on with open minds and an eager spirit. The first to hop on ziplines and horses and white water rafting tubes (and the first to fall off into the brisk water!). You were the first to interact with the locals, giving them a glimpse into what GLA is all about. You really paved the way for the students to come after you, and for that, you should be extremely proud.
I loved seeing everyone challenge themselves throughout the week. From stretching your perspective on service work and global development to becoming stronger leaders-you all truly inspired me. The impression you left and the work that you all accomplished has not gone unnoticed. Every time we barrel down the long dirt road to the hotel, we pass Escuela Isla Palo Seco and show our students the garden that Jesse’s group built.
The relationships formed between Daya’s group and Lourdes have continued to blossom into a beautiful partnership. We admire the joy and brightness brought to the front of Escuela Lourdes every time we see the fence that Mark’s group constructed. This week, I returned to Escuela Bambu to build a tire playground and I was able to show my students the classroom that my session one group painted (Aaron and Maria say hi!). The mark that you left continues to shape the lives of both of the locals here and the students that are following in your footsteps.
Looking back on your session, there are a lot of fond memories that come to the minds of the GLA staff. Here are a few that really stand out:
- The mac and cheese incident
- Screaming at Jose as we passed by the rafting place
- Creepy Barbie doll helping paint the school at Escuela Bambu
- Monkeys stealing things out of our backpacks at Manuel Antonio
- Struggling our way out into the ocean on the outrigger boats for “snorkeling”
- Ending the session with a book club
As you make your way through the end of the summer and into another school year, I challenge you to take the lessons you learned in Costa Rica and use them in your everyday life. Think critically about the role GLA played for you, and how you want to further your journey back stateside. What stories are you telling about your trip? How will you continue your growth in leadership and service? How can you make the most of your GLA experience now that it’s behind you? We miss you all, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have had you in our first Beachside Service Adventure group in Parrita. Thank you for being such a special part of our summer.