There are many observations, thoughts and feelings I have on this subject. I'll try to be concise. First, I'm still in awe about the whole experience. About the people and community, I can say I was overwhelmed by how they so warmly welcoming us into their homes and served us a delicious meal made from what they harvested on their own land. Their generosity was inspiring and makes me want to be more like them. As a bit of an introvert, it was outside my comfort zone meeting so many new people. But as a group (and in large part because of Saphire's great skills facilitating the experience) we made something special about of each encounter. While I was afraid of insulting our hosts by having so little Spanish language, and being a shy about stumbling through questions and greetings, they accepted this and treated us to a chance to learn about them and they about us. I am grateful to each of them for this. Something else stuck out to me; they expressed a healthy pride in themselves and their country. I think this is missing in my own country. In the US we are constantly alternating between idealizing our country and whining endlessly about all of it's shortcomings. Maybe it's just me, but it seems there is also less of a call for and participation in direct, collective action by average citizens to address community needs. It leaves me wanting the kind of connection with my own community such as I witnessed in the communities in the Orosi Valley. Also seemingly absent from the culture is the neurotic, self-absorption so common to the status-conscious American citizen, who lives in the shadow of enormous wealth and power and carries with them the promise of the American Dream. Perhaps the people in the community I met are protected from some of our modern social ills through the true social connectedness that they live every day and the way they live to share in their individual prosperity.
Thank you for a great experience! I was skeptical about how tourism and volunteering went together, but it makes perfect sense to me after experiencing it. - Joel Carnazzo, December 2013

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