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RAY RATTRAY

sUMMER 2018

This past summer, I attended a Rein Teen Tours community service trip, for three weeks of July in Costa Rica, via the Trip of A Lifetime scholarship organization. Throughout the trips duration, I was volunteering at a dog shelter — the Costa Rica Dog Rescue in the La Fortuna/Arenal area of Costa Rica — as well as having many more fun adventures with the other youth on this tour. The community service increased my capacities of responsibility & maturity, and the socializing with the tour group built up new relationships with different people from around the country.

I found out about the Trip of A Lifetime program around six or seven months before I went to Costa Rica; it was discovered in a promotion sent out to the students of my sister’s high school and their parents, so my mother discussed the opportunity with me and urged me to apply as fast as possible. At this point, it was near January in my Junior year of high school, and filling out the applications ASAP would make inclusion more likely. After all of that was completed, there was around a three-month hiatus for news and information relating to Trip of A Lifetime. When I first filled out the application forms, I requested to take trips only in the United States; on May 1st, I received the information that I would be going to “Project Hawaii” from July 7th to July 26th. However, a few weeks after that news was delivered to me, growing amounts of volcanic activity around Hawaii gave me the chance to rethink my decision. I chose to go to Costa Rica instead and do Community Service there; the rest is history.

Costa Rica is a country with a culture as different from the United States of America as it is far away from the USA. The culture is capitalism, but much less aggressive than American capitalism. Walking through places in Costa Rica, such as La Fortuna, Playa Tamarindo, or Manuel Antonio, you can get the vibe of what Costa Rican culture is like. Those are the locations that the group and I were at during the trip; and by my experience the Costa Rican people were all very cordial, nice, and hospitable.

Another virtue of being in Costa Rica is getting to experience their quality cuisine; similar to Mexican food and other Latin-American cuisines - but unique at the very same time. However, the range of accessible cuisines is large; during the trip I ate not only Costa Rican food, but also Mexican food, Italian food, sushi, and a lobster dinner. Fresh fruit is something very prevalent there, on the streets there were very many fruit vendors, and at the dog shelter we would always get fruit smoothies (strawberry, mango, blackberry, and guanabana) in-between service tasks. Costa Rica is heavenly beautiful as well, even when the weather was not great, the views were stunning nevertheless.