Chelsea Hiciano

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Trip of a lifetime has not only provided me with a memorable experience, but also the courage to make a difference in my society. After being chosen to go to Costa Rica, I participated in amazing and fun activities I never thought I would ever be able to do. From white water repelling in San Carlos to surfing in Santa Cruz, there was never a time to feel bored! The weather was nothing less of tropical and relaxing, something the immense amount of rain could not put a damper on.

Many of the given activities had given me quite the adrenaline rush,which I enjoy to find from time to time. My biggest fear was making new friends in this foreign country. When it comes to meeting people, I see myself as a pariah rather than social butterfly. I never expected to make connections with kids from different parts of the United States. Day by day, I felt my social skills improving with every person I met, hoping to have the chance to make everyone happy.

With my new friends, our daily activities became much more memorable. Besides my new found courage to make friends, there were other time where this trip has impacted my life. My volunteer service and the wildlife preserve known as Proyecto Asis has taught me the importance of respecting animals. People have the tendency to take home a wild animal because it is "cute", thus neglecting the freedom of said animal. By the end of the day, almost every animal is wild, and it will never truly be tamed. An animal might obey orders from its master, but they do so out of survival, hoping to avoid any animal cruelty. The animals at Proyecto Asis were all sent there because of society's neglect; these animals were attacked and confined to areas they did not belong, thus endangering its health.

Volunteering at this wildlife preserve has taught my a very powerful lesson; society can be very cruel, even if it is too naive to see it. It taught me that my generation has the power to make a difference and improve the lives of all organisms. Appreciating the value of an animal has also allowed me to appreciate the value that every human possesses.

I am proud to say that the lessons I have learned in Costa Rica will be carried on with me in America, allowing me the courage to become a leader in my society and educating my peers to make a difference. Trip of a lifetime gave me another family, one with people scattered over the United States, giving me an idea of what life is like for a kid my age in a different state. I feel strong enough to make even broader connections with people all over the world and be part of a community built on education. Traveling has educated me through new cultures, such as understanding lifestyles in Costa Rica. Costa Ricans are known for living by the quote "pura vida", meaning that we should strive to live a pure, happy life. What is stopping us from living a pure life? Understanding. Understanding the world outside our world will allow us to become enlightened, thus improving our societal views and living a pure life. Thank you so much Trip of a lifetime. You have given me the opportunity to discover the skills to become my own leader!