Inspiring letter from a high school volunteer

There are so many things I love about being a Program Site Specialist here at Cross-Cultural Solutions: my wonderful team, the opportunity to volunteer internationally, and of course, the amazing volunteers that I get to help prepare for their experience! But I must admit, the highlight of my job is when I receive a letter from a volunteer after they return home, telling me about their life-changing experience. Here is a letter from Ai, a Costa Rica High School Volunteer Abroad alum.


Hi Danielle,

I had the chance to volunteer in Costa Rica for a week this summer thanks to the CCS program. It was an absolutely mind-altering and life-changing week, and I cannot be any more thankful toward the program for making this dream of mine come true.

We worked at an elementary school which is extremely low-funded. Apart from taking care of and teaching English to the adorable kids, we also repainted and constructed a brand new playground for the school. At first, we were all shy to make friends with the kids, but as soon as they saw us, they ran up and gave us the warmest, tightest, and loveliest hugs. The kids were bundles of joy to work with, and they were also very bright as they rapidly improved their English skills throughout the week of conversing with my group of volunteers. In return, I personally picked up a huge amount of Spanish and was able to make short conversations instead of answering "Si!" and "Como estás?" to everything, like I did at the beginning of the trip.

Working with the kids has given me many life lessons that I could never gain, but for this trip. They taught me to ignore an individual's differences and seize the change to spread love to everyone. They also taught me to ignore my own differences and comfortably fit in with the surrounding world. They led me through our language barrier, and we ended up having a blast with one another. They showed me priceless cultural experiences, such as treasuring nature and finding peace in our own selves. Last but not least, they taught me to greet everything with the brightest smile, even when hardships come our way.

Spending a week in a completely foreign country was also a priceless life experience. It was a nerve-wracking experience traveling for 50 hours and ending up in a place where I had no clue about the language, the people, and the stay. I stomped through with the greatest body language skills I have ever used, and a mindset ready to absorb every new discovery. The week was truly amazing as I learned to overcome my fears and enjoy every single thing that I was extremely lucky to have.

Thank you again for making this summer so memorable and joyful. I truly enjoyed every second of the trip, and it absolutely inspired me to venture more and give a helping hand to those in need.

Best,
Ai

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