By Carly Clayman, Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica with Temple Sinai ATL
When stranded in the jungle, or even moving through a tight-knit city like San Jose, we do not realize the extent to which we are dependent on others and on technology. Just as when we stepped off of the plane in San Jose to start our Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica trip and were eager to obtain even one bar of WiFi, we were so blinded by our constant need for contact to the social world that we could not see the communication right in front of us: delving into the culture by communicating with the customs employees, other travelers, and, of course, each other.
Fast forward a couple days. The 15 of us hop off of our miniature boat and approach the turtle conservation area that we would be working at, each of our faces reflective of a different emotion. As we went off our separate ways to our cabins, six of us swung open our door to find a single light and no air conditioning. I remember someone making the observation that this “isn’t like home,” which can be taken positively and negatively. After coming away from a week and a half in Costa Rica, I began to notice that those three words symbolize the essence of the trip: straying away from your norms at home and finding a deeper purpose in the experiences that we encounter and the responsibilities we have.
Some of us anticipated the work that we would be engaging in; however, many of us did not. It was the tenacity of the group and the teamwork that led me to believe that we as a group indirectly discovered that communication was vital in a situation like the one we were in. “Will you help me wheelbarrow the cement?” or “Can we switch out shoveling?” became key phrases in our daily environment. Looking back at the situation now, the communication shared by the group led us to successfully complete our final project, which we were more than proud to be a part of.
A month later and many of us are involved in new experiences, some similar to Costa Rica, and some drastically different, yet each of us has returned to America as a more outspoken, experienced individual. Some of us are attending summer camp, others are interning, and some are even road-tripping across the country; however, we have all found ways to pause and realize that our world has been shifted by our experiences in Costa Rica from the memories we have made, the jokes we have shared, and the lessons we have learned.