- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. My STEP project was a BuckIserv trip to Costa Rica. On this trip we did service for a small town in Costa Rica, and various activities such as whitewater rafting, and surfing.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? I have been out of the country before, but only to England and Canada, so this trip was the first time that I truly experienced a drastically different culture. It was cool to learn all about the similarities and differences between life in Costa Rica, and the US. I was surprised to see that even in the remote town that we visited, they still had cable, smartphones, and social media. I also thought a lot about traveling to different countries, and how the trip that you take can affect your perception of that country. I appreciated my trip to Costa Rica, but our experience might not have been representative of the way the whole country operates, due to the fact that we were in such a small, remote area. I would love to go back to a more established portion of Costa Rica and compare the cultures of the two areas.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
The fact that we stayed in such a remote area was definitely a big part of what made this a transformative experience. We had two guides, who grew up and lived in the area. Learning from someone who grew up there was really impactful. They were able to answer any and all questions that we had throughout the trip. I also enjoyed how we got to ask the homestay families questions at the end of each night. We truly got to learn about the culture straight from the source which was a cool experience.
The people that were on the trip with me also made a really big impact on the success of the trip. In general, we all were ready for any challenge, and all got along really well. Both the faculty and student leader were very helpful in getting us all through the trip. Our leaders held daily reflections that really made us think about our experience, which helped to make the trip more impactful.
The adventure aspects of the trip also made it transformative. The trip was definitely a lot more physical than I expected. I like to hike, and I am very active, but the physicality of the trip was a challenge. The hike that we did on the first day of the trip was very intense. It definitely gave me a perspective on how difficult backpacking actually is. I would love to do a true backpacking trip one day, and this gave me an idea of what really goes in to that.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
I have always seen pictures and heard about service trips, but I have never experienced one. Now I have first hand experience, and know what it is like to travel abroad, and serve in the community. I also had the opportunity to try many things that were on my bucket list. One thing that I would have done differently if I could choose my STEP signature project again would be to choose a project where the service is more relevant to my educational and career goals. I hope to be a PA, so doing a service trip with a health care focus would have been a very cool experience. That being said, I still did get to experience my first service trip, which achieved my basic goals.