By Andrew Lavine, Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica 1B 2017 Participant
To be completely honest, my first time out of the country was a (insert adjective here) experience: eye-opening, gratifying, awe-inspiring, motivating, life changing. Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica brought together an incredible group that made my trip of firsts the experience of a lifetime.
The local way of life in Costa Rica is like nothing I’ve experienced before.The idea of pura vida takes on a new meaning here; many things have a tentative time, whereas in the United States, everything is scheduled down to the minute. I hope this is one thing I take home with me. The constant rainfall – everything is perpetually wet – brought with it some challenges. How people can live with wet clothes all the time is a question that is yet to be answered. Being fully immersed in the culture consisted of traveling by boat, learning to salsa dance, going to local markets, eating food that can’t be replicated, nearly getting hit by cars (apparently pedestrians don’t have the right of way around here), and seeing beautiful landscapes. Being granted the opportunity to renovate the local school and assist in the conservation of certain sea turtle species has permanently changed how I view and value my education, as well as the world around me. I was greatly motivated by the locals who have dedicated their lives to these causes, and I was rewarded with the looks on their faces when the work was finished.
Mitzvah Corps gave me an amazing trip of firsts. I enjoyed all the experiences I had and the people that I met. I can say without a doubt that I will never forget my time here in Costa Rica.