Linda Ankrah

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One thing that I was always taught as a kid was to be grateful for the things I have. Although I wasn't born into a family of wealth, I was born into a family of love and compassion. But the love and compassion for the things I have grew when I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica this summer. Doing community service has always been a passion of mine, but thanks to Trip of A Lifetime and Rein Teen Tours, my passion has been fulfilled and then some. Before I went to Costa Rica, I was nervous, just like any other teenager traveling to a foreign country for the first time would be. I even had second thoughts about going, considering the fact that I've never traveled out of the country without my family before. But after the support and useful information from Stan and Rein, I continued to remind myself that I am doing this because I genuinely care about making a change in this life, and leaving a legacy of change for the next generation. Getting to know people that were going on this trip beforehand really helped a bunch, because I am not the best social butterfly in the world. But just knowing that a group of teenagers dedicated two weeks of their life to be a catalyst for change really made my soul smile in ways that I can't describe. When we landed in Costa Rica and drove to a nearby restaurant to eat lunch, that's when it hit me that I was no longer in the box that I once knew. I am in a new country, with new people, and committed myself to do new things. Yes, there was a time where I felt homesick. But after participating in activities that scared me half to death, laughing and starting to relate to teens in the most random ways; and doing activities with these teens, I had absolutely no reason to be homesick anymore. I felt free, and I felt that I could take on any task that was given to me. My heart melted when I first started volunteering at an elementary school in a town called San Carlos. The kids didn't speak much English, and I didn't speak much Spanish, but we communicated through smiles and stacking bottle caps to create almost anything that came to their minds. When we began to paint game boards onto the ground, I felt a serene spirit overcome me.

It didn't feel like work. It felt like I was doing something fun, because that's exactly what it was. Going zip lining was definitely something that I would have never seen myself doing in this lifetime, but with the encouragement of the counselors on the trip, I sped through 12 zip lines and loved every moment of it. Although the volunteering we did was fun, it also got tiring. So ending our services to do yoga throughout the two weeks really relieved the physical tension that began to catch up with me on the trip. I remember dozing off in every session because it was that relaxing. One thing that shocked me when I was making friends on this trip was the common interests we have in music. Exchanging the names of different artists under the pouring rain while we sat under a mushroom canopy in the middle of the hotel is one of the many moments that I will cherish from this trip. The most favorite part of my trip was the drives to and from our activities and projects throughout the day and night. Looking out of the van window and looking at the breathtaking view of Volcán Arenal while the clouds lightly surrounded the volcano really wrapped up the experience for me. Valuing the things and the people that are in my life right now is one of many things that I've taken from this trip. Complaining about little things that people all over the world yearn to have or are okay with not having is something that I felt so guilty about during the trip. But I will continue to make sure that I give more than I receive. That's the best way to live, and as a human on this earth with the capabilities to walk and talk, that's the only way I should be living. I've been blessed in so many different ways, and this trip has been on of the biggest blessings so far this year.

I can never thank Trip of a Lifetime and Rein Teen Tours enough. To anyone who is curious about traveling in hopes of being a catalyst for change: do it. Do it, and put your heart and soul into it. The results will blossom before your eyes and encourage you to give more.