Costa Rica Revisted. 2015 Global PEACE Program Initial Reflections.

I’m feeling a surge of emotions.  I think that happens a lot with me.

I’m happy, sad, and feeling an overwhelming sense of loss & purpose at the same time. I feel like one minute I could cry and the next, I’ll start laughing.  It’s like puberty all over again.

Going back to Costa Rica was a completely new and enriching experience for me. When you go to a place for the first time, everything is exciting.  All of your senses are soaking in new details.  But, when you return to a place, especially after some time — a year, in my case– different things happen.  You begin to analyze the things you never really noticed before.  You see a lot of good things that you saw before, but you also begin to evaluate other nuances.  It’s something I never really experienced before because I’ve never been to a foreign country more than once.  And out of the things I’ve learnt from this trip, I’ve learnt that revisiting places can be a very valuable and important thing.

I feel like I will say this about every place in the world I’ll travel to, but I can say with confidence that Costa Rica will always hold a very close and special place in my heart. I learned a good amount from the people I’ve met there and the friendships I’ve cultivated.  And, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t getting a bit emotional as I’m typing this whole thing.  I’ve only been in my apartment for less than an hour and I’m already dreading so many things that come with returning home from somewhere else.  I am thinking ahead–thinking of ways to return to my home away from home, to a place where I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at peace with myself and my place in the world, even when I don’t speak the language completely.

From Alajuela to San Jose to Caldera to Mastatal, each and every person I had the privilege of interacting with have given me so much strength and joy.  I am so grateful for the group of peacebuilders I worked with and to the many individuals I’ve met along the way.  I think of them and I am filled with so much happiness, and I know that that is what peace is.  That it is powerful and capable of doing so much good in the world.  Because what happiness I feel inside of me, I know I can use to motivate others around me.  It has shifted and guided me, even when I am 100% sure that I do not know what journey I will take to attain my goals in this world.

When I left, I told my peers that I did not want to go back to the US–that I did not want to return to reality. But, upon reflection, I know that sentiment to be flawed.  My reality is what I choose it to be.  Costa Rica is a lovely, wonderful, powerful reality for me.  I learned about peace as a system from professors and citizens alike.  I learned that demilitarization cannot be the only answer and that every government has its flaws, but that people everywhere are resilient, beautiful, unique humans.  And that gives me an amazing amount of hope about our world.  I am amazed at how at home I could feel in a foreign place from only being there for a short amount of time, and if I could feel that connected to people and places in less than two weeks, I am so excited to think of how much love can flow from person to person with more time than that.

I don’t know what will happen in my future, but I know that I am capable of doing and creating great things in the world so that others can learn what I have learnt and live purposeful, extraordinary lives.

All I know is that I will do everything in my own power to return to Costa Rica again, to work with and perhaps live amongst the families and friends I have met there, and to create a more peaceful & prosperous global community.

Even though I am thinking about my future and how I can return again to Costa Rica, I know that living too much in the future can do no good for our present.  Although it will be an internal struggle for me, I’m ready for today and cannot wait for the many tomorrows we all have to build a kinder world together.

With peace, love, and pura vida,

Christina

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