Dear Beachside Service Alums,
I’m sitting at home base on Isla Palo Seco as my time in Parrita is coming to a close. I look around and am reminded of so many memories that we shared together during your time here, finally reaching 100 in the pool, sweating more than ever during the dance class, mentor groups huddled in circles debriefing the celebrations and challenges of the day, relaxing in the hammocks and watching the white-faced monkeys pass by, listening to the waves crash just steps away from it all, mixed in with the singing of so many birds, the scampering lizards, and of course, being completely covered in bug spray every moment of every day, but still getting eaten alive by the no-see-ums.
By now, you are most likely settled into a routine back in your normal life, with school, old friends, extracurriculars, and all the junk food you could possibly crave back at your fingertips, but I hope that there is also something a little bit different this time around. I hope that you remember your time here in Parrita, that you carry it with you, that it has become a part of you. I hope that it’s more than just new friendships and fun memories captured on gopros.
While those are great, they are incomplete from the time that we shared together. In whatever leadership positions you find yourself, both formal and informal, I hope you consider the best fit for the job, whether that requires direct, relational, or following leadership. I hope that you are continuing to challenge yourself to grow in the style that is the most unnatural for you. I hope that you continue to consider your values, what they mean to you and how they impact your decisions and actions. I hope that when faced with a conflict, you remember the discussion with your mentor group about how we respond to those moments and why. I hope you tell and consider multiple stories as you take in and respond to the world around you, remembering that people are more complex than we often realize. I hope you remember to analyze different perspectives and find the truths that can be held simultaneously from opposite sides. I hope that you are being your best self, living your biggest life in whatever way you can. I hope that you remember the people of Parrita, their resiliency, their hospitality, their pura vida, and the way that it inspired you.
The time that we shared in Costa Rica was short, just 10 days, but it was so full, so deep, and it was real. We had so much fun together, worked really hard on community projects that are still being utilized, and also faced a myriad of challenges that forced us to think and grow. Remember it all, and continue to let it impact you as you adventure onward.
Some of my favorite memories from the trip:
- Working alongside of the students from Escuela Finca Nicoya to paint their fence, building pride and taking a load off the directors plate. Participating in the bingo fundraiser and seeing the community in action.
- Breaking ground for the beginnings of the wren nursery to create a lasting impact fighting climate change for the sake of the people of Isla Palo Seco.
- Painting the dogs at Escuela Isla Palo Seco, and creating a mural to help make the garden more sustainable.
- Building a sustainable garden for the students at Escuela Palo Seco to increase food production and further their involvement in the blue flag program, and wearing a vestido de queso to the final meal.
- Kicking off the tire playground project at Escuela La Costanera. We don’t get tired! Juan Carlos says hello!
- Planting over 200 trees alongside the incredible women of Ave Fenix to help rescue the natural habitat of the Scarlet Macaw and other birds of the tropical forest.
- Did I mention how much we sweat during the dance class? The instructor was so full of life!
- Lourdes showing us her ways in the cooking class, and getting to taste the traditional corn dishes at the end.
- The photo/video scavenger hunt, spelling GLA with our bodies, opening a coconut, mannequin challenges, and synchronized swimming!
- Swim Test turned week-long challenge to make it to 100 with the volleyball in the pool!
- Jumping off the top of the catamaran and spending the morning laying in the sun on the nets! (hello sunburn!)
- Zip lining through the jungle and getting dropped in the water at the end.
- Tubing down the river, holding on to friends for dear life with the most beautiful mountain views.
- The adventure of horseback riding, biting horses, slow horses, fast horses, and the cool, refreshing mist of the waterfall in the middle.
- Body surfing in Manuel Antonio national park.
- Bargaining for the best prices in the market and stuffing faces with tacos and french fries
- Bus rides full of Me Rehúso and any song by Nicky Jam or Enrique Iglesias.
- The laughter, deep talks, and sheer joy of new friendships that will be treasured for a lifetime.
Keep in touch with us as you continue on. We are so proud of the work that you accomplished and the growth that you experienced. You were such a crucial part of the relationship that GLA is building with the community of Parrita. Know that we are cheering you on as you go.