Belize – Charlotte

The Belize trip was a very…emotional journey for me. This entire experience in the Sustainable Leadership Cohort has been an emotional experience because in order for me to do everything, I have to take myself out of my comfort zone; I’m very protective and touchy about my comfort zone too. But I’m glad that I have been able to do that, stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing new things…talking to new people…just getting out is something huge for me. I know how much of a privilege it is to be able to do such a thing, and I thought about that the entire time in Belize – how lucky we were to be able to go to another country and interact with some of the local communities. I thought about how weird it was that such a diverse group of people were able to get along so well, and how we were all able to make connections and grow together. This trip is something that I’ll be talking about for years, years and years until I can vaguely remember how the first time I felt the heat stepping off the plane and how the different faces were looking at us as we drove past them in our van. One of the things that I don’t think I’ll ever forget is how the kids of Arenal looked at us when we first arrived, and how the opening ceremony was just so open. It was like the words personal space weren’t even apart of their dictionaries. The way they embraced our presence was heartwarming because I have never felt so much comfort and appreciation and just overall love in one room – a room full of strangers!
The happiness I felt when I was around everyone, when we were sitting around eating and playing cards, when we were in the talking circle, when we were just laughing and making jokes… is an indescribable happiness that I’ve never felt. In fact, I have never felt happier when I was around everyone. And when I wasn’t involved in any of the activities (which was rarely), I felt happy just hearing the laughter and I felt happy hearing everyone having the time of their lives. The happiness that was radiating off was something you couldn’t ignore, you just couldn’t. Everywhere you went that happiness trailed behind you. I don’t think I could find another word to describe the bliss and contentedness that I felt in Belize. I hope that I won’t forget this feeling, or loose this happiness that took me forever to gain back. That’s also another thing that I will forever thank this great country, was helping me become more…happy. Sure, it might not have been the country itself, but the experience made me happy. The people made me happy.
I canoed for the first time, yes for the first time, down a tropical river. I swam in a tropical river! I’m not sure how many have the ability to say something like that, to say that the first time they canoed was in a tropical river is amazing. Really. I can still remember the day so well, how hot it was and how warm and great the water felt after canoeing for seven miles and how relieved to finally dunk their heads under the water to cool was amazing. Everything we’ve done was amazing, and I think canoeing was probably one of my favorites. Although I’d feel a bit guilty for rating all the things we’ve done I think that I’d give this event a solid nine – and that includes visiting the botanical gardens. It’s funny now, as I’m typing this because looking back on what we’ve all done made me realize again, that we are so privileged to experience something like this. Literally, a once in a lifetime experience and I, along with ten other students were chosen to go on this trip. It just blows me away whenever I hear how lucky we were to be picked. And I’m so happy, so happy because each one of us had a personality trait that contributed to the fact that our trip was so easy and fun. Like everyday I laughed for a solid half hour, I giggled at the little things I’ve overheard and I was dying of laughter with all the mad jokes that were being exchanged.
I also keep reminding myself about how much this trip helped shape my mentality and helped me with breaking the big barriers I had, how different I see the world now. In a way, I feel a little sad. Because I can’t help but think that the group we went with, I might not come across that again. And I’m trying hard not to think like that, I know that when one door closes, another door will open and more opportunities will arise as I get older and as I get into my college studies but this trip…it made me have high expectations for my next abroad trip. My future trips probably won’t compare to this one, especially because this is my first study abroad trip. They will all have to meet the expectations I have set in my mind now, all thanks to this amazing journey with these amazing group of people. I opened up so much to a group of strangers, and it felt great. It felt great too because for once someone listened and we were all so supportive of each other and we listened. Man, that is one thing that I appreciated so much, was all the listening and the attention that was given when someone was presenting. I’ve never had that attention, and to finally experience that is so great – indescribable. Overall, this trip was so amazing. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience this journey, and the people that we have met, and the people in our group have made a special place in my heart. I became more proud of myself, gaining back my confidence that I’ve lost makes me so proud and happy. So much has been discovered and accomplished in one week, and I’m so happy. Happy. Happy. Happy.