My gap semester in Costa Rica
My experience with Cross-Cultural Solutions began while I was attending Hartwick College in 2008. I had hit a roadblock that I'm sure you may have faced when you were a student, or perhaps you're not quite there yet, but we all tend to hit a moment in life where we just can't clearly see the road ahead. Anyway, I was unsure of which direction to take in school and couldn't quite figure out where my passion was and what I wanted to pursue. So rather than a gap year, I decided to take a gap semester in Costa Rica in hopes that it would help me to determine my path forward.
I originally enrolled to volunteer for just four weeks. I worked with children from birth to age five on a multitude of activities and helped Marlene, the woman who managed the center, with day-to-day tasks. I clearly remember Marlene telling me that due to my consistent one-on-one attention, no child had missed a day since my arrival. I was proud of the impact that I was making.
I had intended to go sightseeing after my four-week volunteer adventure, but I changed my plans and extended my volunteer experience to five weeks, then seven, eight, and ultimately, 12 weeks!
Through my experience with CCS, I got to know myself and had a chance to understand and explore things that I was passionate about. Upon my return to Hartwick College, I declared my major in political science with a concentration in women's rights and international development. My time volunteering abroad with CCS gave me academic credit, provided a case study for my thesis, and above all else, it gave me the opportunity to change the lives of others while at the same time enriching and changing my own life.