I’ve been asked to think about a defining moment of the course. That is a tough one. Sometimes defining moments are not recognized until a long time after. There were moments throughout that stand out for me: time spent on the bridge at La Selva; not only being allowed, but encouraged to perform from time to time; long one-on-one conversations about our studies, our lives, and so on. It also was reinforced for me that I have to make the changes in my life happen if I am going to be where and who I want to be. Being surrounded by intelligent and driven people only makes me better, so that is where I need to be.
One of the themes that wove its way through the ten days was working together. Whether it was data collection in the dark, splitting into pairs to venture into the rainforest to count dink frog chirps, or simply offering knowledge gained from experience to help out fellow classmates. Whether we were discussing journal questions, dating advice, or classroom curriculum, there was a sense of support throughout. Everyone had something to contribute, and was willing to do so. I can absolutely say that conversations with 3rd year students greatly helped me with my own project planning and preparation. I like to think that I was able to offer a few helpful moments as well to others.
I don’t fear much. That is not me bragging or trying to sound tougher than I am, but when it comes to activities and the physical realm of things, my comfort zone is pretty much anything. Heights, deep water, public speaking (or singing, as the case may be), wild animals… not a problem. So these kinds of trips and experiences do not push my limits in that respect. I don’t mind sharing, I am perfectly comfortable with group discussions, and find it very easy to take a leadership role when needed.
I do find myself feeling a bit of trepidation when surrounded by so much knowledge and talent. Especially when discussions turn to areas in which I am not as well versed. It is moments like those that I begin to wonder if I am out of my depth… that maybe I am only here on a fluke and soon I will be found out and exiled… (yes, my intellectual imagination does have a flair for the dramatic at times). But with this group, while I was definitely out of my depth in a few situations, I never felt like I didn’t belong. Even with a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and realms of knowledge, I was always made to feel included. And that is pretty awesome.
When people ask “how was Costa Rica”, my thoughts from immediately after still stand:
Many have asked me: so how was Costa Rica? I don’t know what kind of answer I can give that fully describes the experience. It was wet and hot, it was exhausting and exhilarating, there was a lot of talking and listening, and rumor has it there was some singing from time to time. We bonded and worked hard, we hiked long trails and rode many miles through beautiful landscapes. We shared ideas, and some personal stories. Some people faced fears; either external fear of the dark or the wild or the creatures they could not see, and other faced the internal fears of failure, anxiety, and keeping what lay back home at bay, just for a few days. We laughed. A lot. We struggled, we played, and we learned. That’s how Costa Rica was. And it was amazing.