by Jill Robinson, with Greenheart Travel
Yesterday was a long day. The Chicago humidity was taking its toll, and all I could manage to do was stare out my window and watch the grey clouds curdle into a stormy film on the horizon. These are evenings when an anxiousness to travel makes me irritable and discontent. Deciding that staring at the city streets wasn’t going to satiate my feelings, I began to flip through the journals from our Center for Cultural Interchange/Greenheart Travel Costa Rica Scholarship winners. It was a treasure chest of inspiration and a reminder of why we embark on journeys across the world.
These four Chicago high school students were awarded a scholarship for an all-expense paid trip to Costa Rica, where they would become immersed in the culture, stay with host families and help volunteer at an eco-reserve, high school and women’s co-op for ten days. They were kind enough to share their journals with me to give me an insight into their adventure, and after reading the first few pages, I realized how special these students were, and how life-changing travel can be for someone.
Travelers are always sharing their next adventures, and with social media and blogs, there is no shortage in information on “how to” and “where to” travel. But many times there is something missing from these weathered wanderers. These students understood perfectly the reason why we travel: to learn, to become aware, to share new knowledge and take in every moment with an excitement of seeing something for the first time with a sense of awe and appreciation.
In this upcoming series of blog posts, I hope that these pages from our Costa Rica Scholarship winners inspires you as much as it did me. Sixteen-year-old Braulio, one of the four high school students, put it perfectly in his final thoughts.
“This trip has opened doors, eyes and every other metaphorical thing to me. I fell in love with Costa Rica and because of that, I know other places in the world are probably just as easy to fall in love with. I now have a thirst for travel, for life, the unknown and unexplored. I feel in a way, that I now have a responsibility to let everyone I know learn the beauty of travel and getting to know a culture. When I say “travel” though, I don’t mean staying at a hotel and visiting the tourist spots. I mean a full integration of a culture, getting to know how THEY live.
As I sit writing this on the plane, I’m saddened that I have to leave, but if I wasn’t leaving I wouldn’t be able to share my experience with the people I care about back home and spreading the news.” – Braulio Fernandez, 16 years old high school student