Costa Rica Buck-I-Serv/OAC trip Winter ’18

Rachel George

Service Learning and Community Service

My STEP Signature Project was a ten-day long trip to Costa Rica. Buck-I-Serv partnered with the OAC to offer a combination of service-learning and adventuring. The adventure aspect of the trip included activities such as hiking, rappelling, caving, white-water rafting, and introductory surfing.

During this trip a few changes that took place were mostly realizations I came to while being in Costa Rica. In Brujo, I was able to see how community can have such a large impact on a person’s happiness. The town we stayed in was made up of a group of people all related in some way; many of these people lived with or were neighbors with extended relatives. This allowed them to all take care of each other through all parts of life. Seeing how close their community was and how happy the people were as a result made me realize I want to live in a closely-knit community and always make family a priority. Another thing this trip taught me was the importance of experiences over material objects and how crucial it is to live in the moment, rather than constantly being on your phone or worrying about the past/present.

I will always remember that moment when I was sitting in the raft, floating down the river, and I realized – I have never felt so intensely happy for such a long period of time. The worries of upcoming classes, post-graduation plans, and everything else I usually have spinning through my head were long gone. I had been giving my full attention to the world around me, it was peaceful. This realization was what made me promise to myself that I would spend more on experiences and less on things.

A few relationships that led to the realizations I mentioned previously were those formed with my group members. It was amazing to see how quickly people become friends when we don’t have access to our phones! I loved getting to know every single person that went on the trip and am so happy to say that we all still hang out. I met two of my best friends on this trip and will forever be thankful it brought us together.

Finally, an experience that led me to realize the importance of community was getting to spend New Year’s Eve in Brujo with my host family. You would think that a holiday like New Year’s would be terribly boring in a town as small as Brujo, but that was not the case. Although this little town is secluded, the people are all constantly visiting with one another which makes it feel more accessible and livelier. On New Year’s Eve, my host family’s extended family all came over to play card games and chat. They had their own little party and celebrated the New Year with a loud countdown, complete with the banging of pots and pans. I loved getting to see how they celebrated holidays as a family.

This trip relates to my future goals because my end-goal is to be a Nurse Practitioner and volunteer at a free health clinic in my community. I was able to volunteer and see the importance of being involved in your own community while in Costa Rica, which are both things I value. Additionally, I would love to be involved in Doctors Without Borders, which combines travelling with these other factors. The changes I underwent are valuable to my personal goals because I saw the value of spending money on experiences rather than material objects. I was also able to meet people with similar values to mine and I know these people will be lifelong friends.