About a month and a half ago I got on a plane to start my international journey with The School for Field Studies to learn more about achieving sustainability in the world. I decided to spend my summer in classes in Central America, to learn about the science, culture, and other aspects behind making the world a better place. During my first few days at the SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica, I was blown away by the sustainable practices of this Center: orange and mango orchards, butterfly garden, composting, recycling, gardens, and much more.
My first impressions of Costa Rica, during my first few weeks here were all positive ones. I was happy to have a warm welcome to the country—strangers greeted me as if I was old friends and the natural environment seemed to be in pretty good hands as it was visible nearly everywhere around me. One of my favorite things about Costa Rica is the large amount of trees and the green scenery they produce. Naturally, when I heard that a group of us were going to plant trees I was excited and hoped I would get the opportunity to do something I loved doing at home.
The complete journey to being able to plant trees was not as easy as merely placing the trees in the soil, since we had to climb up a mountain in order to get to the planting location. Although our professor warned us that this was going to be a really rigorous hike, I expected the hike to be maybe a bit challenging but not very hard. I was very wrong. I struggled getting up the mountain, as most of my peers were able to get up the hills very quickly. My peers were concerned but kind and encouraged my partner and me to go at our own pace and drink lots of water during frequent breaks. In fact once some students got to the top, a few students came back to help my partner and I with our trees and getting up the mountain.
Once we got to our destination, we were all in awe of the beautiful valleys and mountains spread out in front of us. As we took in this vista, we realized this was all part of what we hope to help preserve for generations to come. It gave us a reminder of why we were here, why we were in this program, and what we hope to do.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my travels in Panama and Costa Rica is that every day comes with its challenges. No matter how quickly or slowly you overcome these obstacles, it is starting the journey that puts you on the right path to making a contribution. If you’re fortunate, as I have been, you will be surrounded by like-minded compassionate people who will help you accomplish your goals and you will help them in return.