Submitted by Alison, 2018 recipient of the “Look Wider” International Travel Scholarship
The Costa Rica and Panama Service Challenge was the most rewarding and life changing trip I’ve ever had the opportunity to go on. Now that I’m home, all I think about is the trip, almost as if it never ended. I think about what I did, how I felt, and the friends I’ve made.
Before the trip, I was extremely worried about making friends. I didn’t think I would make any friends, so part of me just went into loner mode. I thought to myself, “When everyone starts forming cliques, I’ll detach myself entirely.” The trip came closer and closer, while that main worry grew larger and larger. I’d had plenty of bad experiences at camps, but I figured I shouldn’t go in with expectations. To stay neutral, I thought about myself making amazing new friends, and I thought about everyone hating me. This balance somehow kept me from worrying too much. But, the moment I got into the van with everyone else, I got such a bad feeling. It was just the sheer act of seeing the actual people going on this trip that made me feel uneasy.
The first night was the hardest, because it was the adapting time. I just wanted to go home, until I realized that all those actual people were the kindest, most genuine, most beautiful, funniest, and most amazing people I’d ever met. I can’t even express through words how they’ve helped me. They were all so unique and I still can’t believe that I got the chance to know all of them. Each and every one of them made me feel special, and it feels amazing knowing I’m in the Girl Scout sisterhood with them. Over the trip, we met many more amazing people and did so many amazing things. In Talamanca, the BriBri community surprised me. I didn’t know how people with such seemingly hard lifestyles could be so kind and helpful in their community and so welcoming to strangers. It felt so good to know that the BriBri were very appreciative of our help, but it felt even better that I was helping such a kind community. In Panama, it was really cool for me to see all the kind people in San San Pond Sak that were taking the initiative to help the sea turtles and manatees, especially to see how committed they were to this cause. I really enjoyed being able to participate and help them.
Over the course of this trip, I experienced the most amazing opportunities and met the most amazing people. I am extremely grateful to have gone on this trip and to all who helped me go on it. Now that I’m home, I will try my hardest to help everyone on Earth take the time to learn about one another. Maybe then, all of our problems would disappear. Maybe if everyone was together like the BriBri, generous like the people in Panama, and kind like the girls on the trip, we wouldn’t have many problems. So I’m asking that you’re open, because if you’re open, your life could change for the better. I know that after this trip, I strive to be kinder, more helpful, and more open every day. If you welcome someone in like everyone on this trip did to me, you will be welcomed and you’ll have hope and happiness for the world and its people.
“Look Wider” International Travel Scholarships are made possible by the Rae Ann and Richard Dougherty Look Wider International Travel Fund Endowment at Rose Community Foundation. Thanks to this generous commitment, Girl Scouts of Colorado will award scholarships to girls every year.
Learn more about Girl Scout destinations and other international travel at forgirls.girlscouts.org/travel. Applications for destinations travel are due before Thanksgiving each fall. The application for the “Look Wider” International Travel Scholarship is available from November through February and is meant for individual girl travel. Read more about Global Girl Scouting and how to get involved at girlscoutsofcolorado.org/global-girl-scouting.