How Traveling To Costa Rica Gave Me A New Outlook On Life

How Traveling To Costa Rica Gave Me A New Outlook On Life

Traveling is one those hobbies that can never get old. What's your best travel experience?

Traveling is one major way to help free your mind and take a break from the stress that we experience on a day to day basis. Ever since I was in high school, I have done quite a bit of traveling and don’t intend on slowing down whatsoever. Some of the places I’ve been to so far include New Jersey, California, Georgia, Tennessee, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Costa Rica. That list isn’t that long yet, but over the course of my lifetime, I want to go to as many places as possible, interact with many different cultures, learn about those cultures, and spread good energy everywhere I visit.

One of the best places I’ve visited so far has been Costa Rica. During my senior year of high school, my Spanish II teacher, English teacher, her husband, and my senior class went on a mission trip to San Jose. Our English teacher told us that we’d be visiting an orphanage out in San Jose to be a friend to these kids (they were between the ages of 2-11). I remember mostly everything about this trip because it was such an impactful journey; not only for us, but for the kids we spent time with. We bought them toys, clothes, and tried to speak the best Spanish we could to learn about them. Not only did we visit an orphanage when we were there, we went zip-lining along a volcano valley in San Jose. It was both exhilarating and absolutely terrifying, but I would do it all again any given day of the week.

Any time I go somewhere new, I try to make a positive impact on anyone I may come in contact with. It’s important to spread good energy wherever you go because we have no idea what people go through on a daily basis. Being from America, people from different countries think most of us are full of ourselves. Whenever you’re traveling, try to leave a little bit of good energy behind. You’ll be amazed at what itcan do.

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ME To WE Trips Are Life-Changing Experiences

Volunteering abroad will change you for the better.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I was able to have one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. I traveled to Ecuador on a volunteer trip with an organization called ME to WE.

However, just saying that I traveled to Ecuador over the summer makes it sound a lot easier than it actually was. Flashback to fall of my junior year, and that is where this story actually begins. My two friends and I went to an event in Minneapolis called WE Day, that first opened us up to the possibility of making a volunteer trip a reality.

WE Day is an event put on by ME to WE in cities across North America. At the event, there are many celebrity speakers who talk about all of the amazing work they have done to help make a positive impact on the world.

ME to WE has programs set up all around the world to help people in developing countries through the five pillars of education, clean water and sanitation, health, agriculture and food security, and income and livelihood. This whole organization was founded by Craig and Marc Kielburger. These guys have a pretty incredible story so you should definitely look them up. Here’s a link.

You can’t buy a ticket to WE Day. In order to go, you must participate in a local and global project. For our global project, we wanted to do one of their volunteer trips in another country. Of course, this sounded like a great opportunity and we were ready to jump on it, but none of us were unaware of the term “voluntourism”. This is when people travel to developing countries to volunteer, but in reality, they just make things worse than before they got there.

This was definitely something we wanted to avoid, so we did a lot of research into the credibility of this program. We found it to be very credible and really liked the idea behind their projects, which was to give “hand ups” instead of “handouts." This means that they work to help the local people learn to maintain the work that they help start rather than just setting projects up and then leaving them behind.

We decided to travel to Ecuador because all three of us had been learning Spanish in high school and were hoping to be able to practice what we had learned. Once I fully committed, it was time to start raising the money needed to go. In order to fundraise, I wrote hundreds of letters to friends and family, sold items through I blog that I set up about my journey, sold things at craft fairs, wrote letters to local businesses and sold things I didn’t need from around my house.

The trip ended up being completely worth the work put into it. When we arrived in Ecuador, we found out that the project we would be working on was a water project for a small town in the Chimborazo region of Ecuador called Llullin. We worked alongside community members to dig out old pipes on the top of a mountain that leads to the town and gives them access to running water. These pipes were to be replaced with newer and better ones as part of a three-part project.

Digging out pipes at such a high altitude was definitely a challenge, but being able to work alongside great people while doing it made it so much better. It takes a special type of person to go on one of these trips and that’s why I was able to meet so many amazing people. I’m so grateful to have made all of the wonderful friends that I did, and it was very funny that most of them were Canadian because we got to make fun of each other's accents.

In addition to our volunteer project, over the course of two weeks, we also got the opportunity to tour the capital city of Quito and to stay in the Amazon Rainforest for three days.

If this post at all pushed you towards taking one of these trips then it did its job. Going on a volunteer trip will allow you to see different parts of the world, make a positive impact and meet some amazing people. My perspective has definitely widened and now I look forward to a time when I can do something like this again.

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