While getting ready and excited for Summer 2020, we love looking back on the amazing experiences our alumni share with us after their incredible travel experiences with The Road Less Traveled. Today’s blog features the 3 trips that alumna Dayna participated on – Hawaii, Italy, and Costa Rica: El Sendero.
I still remember the day my mom sat me down with an RLT brochure we received in the mail. I thought it was a crazy idea, but it was the best kind of crazy. That summer, I went on the Hawaii trip without knowing a single person. As a quiet, shy, small girl, this was incredibly far out of my comfort zone. In the least cliche way possible, that trip changed my life. It changed my outlook on the world, on the way I saw myself, on the way I thought about others. One of the leaders, Brittnay, was a big part of allowing this change to occur. She listened, understood, cared for, and advised me during a pivotal point of my teenage years. In just two weeks, I gained confidence, I no longer felt so insignificant in such a big world, I was happier, and I had found a place in the RLT family.
For my Hawaii: Aloha ‘Aina experience, I thank you.
The following summer, I was extremely excited to go to Italy with RLT. To this day, I talk about the Italy: Seme Al Piatto trip with friends and family weekly – I’ve shared stories with anyone and everyone who cares to listen! The leader on that trip, Beth, taught me how to love myself and how to feel comfortable with myself. I vividly remember driving home after a small hike in Sora. While the others were asleep in the car, Beth turned to me and said how content she was, how at peace she was with everything in her life. I still think about this brief moment quite often.
For my Italy: Seme Al Piatto experience, I thank you.
For my final RLT trip, I chose Costa Rica. Costa Rica was absolutely beautiful and I could feel the real impact of our work in Pejibaye. The people of Pejibaye were some of the most welcoming and warmest people I’ve met. My favorite adventure of the trip was white water rafting. There was a moment we all got out of the rafts and swam in the stillness of the river. The clear sky was pure blue, birds were chirping, and I remember laying on my back, allowing the flow of the river to carry my weight. When people say, “go to your happy place,” this memory is what I recall when I close my eyes. Our leader that summer, Jess, taught me self reflection. She instilled leadership in me. She believed in me and I believed in myself. She told me that even though I was mature and growing out of being a participant, she admired my youthful curiosity and open-mindedness.
For my Costa Rica: El Sendero experience, I thank you.
I often miss the person I used to be on these trips. I reread my journals of these trips and I am envious of who I was and how happy these trips made me.
For helping create this whole version of myself, I thank you.
As I wrap up my RLT reflection, I want to thank you once again for allowing me the pleasure of befriending some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. Not everyone can say they have friends around the world – France, the UK, California, New Jersey, Florida, and more.
For orchestrating an environment for these types of friendships, I thank you.