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Alumni Spotlight: Jillian Stevens’s Costa Rica Trip!

My trip to Costa Rica was definitely one that I will never forget. It was filled with so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences that none of us would be able to experience anywhere else.

My first day went by fast – I got off the airplane and was brought to one of the hotels to wait to meet all of the other kids. The fullsizerender-1seven of us all ended up quickly getting to know each other – and we were super excited for the week to come.

Waking up in such a nice room at such a gorgeous hotel, being able to walk around the place in the morning and getting served amazing, fresh breakfast was just such a lovely way to start the days. We made our way to the local church where we’d be helping out the next few days. In such a short amount of time, we were able to get so much work done for the people and we were also able to establish such amazing connections with them, which was so rewarding. The little things we did to help them, no matter how small, gave them so much pleasure, and they were so thankful for absolutely everything. It felt so good. I was especially happy to make friends with everyone, even the little kids. Everyone treated us so kindly – we were made tasty lunch everyday when we were there. Everything was just so nice.

What I found really cool was that I was able to use some of my Spanish skills that I’ve learned throughout my school years, but in real life! Although I didn’t know a lot, mostly everyone spoke a little English so it was easy to understand each other going back and forth. It felt so image2-4cool to be able to slightly speak another language and the immersion really made me want to
continue learning the language.

Besides the service we did, we also were able to experience many other things. One night we we all took a dance class, which was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. It was so much fun to just let go and dance without having to care or worry about anyone judging you. Afterwards, the locals put on a performance for us and we got to see the real deal! We also played many, many soccer games over the week – I think I’ve become a pro.

The last few days of our trip we took surfing lessons at the beach. This was basically what we’ve all been waiting for the whole time (even though we were more than pleased with everything else), so we were more than excited. All of us eventually got up on the board and caught some waves. It was totally awesome and the feeling of riding a wave doesn’t compare to anything else. I was incredibly grateful I got the opportunity to learn, because I was finally able to cross it off my bucket list after years!

Other than the incredible things we were able to do – there was something much more special that happened. The seven of us, plus our two trip leaders, all formed such amazing bonds that could never be formed anywhere else. We all united around the one thing we wanted most – and image7that was to be there and to live in the moment. It was so crazy how good of friends we all became in such a short amount of time and we, thankfully, still keep in contact. I am so thankful to have met such an interesting and entertaining group of kids that I will definitely never forget. Being able to be myself around them and them all accepting me for who I am makes such an impact in my life.

Of course, I could go on and on forever about this trip because it was truly that amazing in my eyes. I’m so thankful to have
been given the opportunity to go on it, and I really hope I can do more things like this in the future. It opened my eyes to many new perspectives and was just a ton of fun.

Costa Rica will forever hold a place in my heart!

Pura Vida!