By Nikita Metharamani
Imagine an average-sized garage… then cut that in half. This is the size of people’s homes in the less-privileged areas of Costa Rica. Over the summer, senior Alexandra Kadish volunteered for three weeks in La Carpio, an impoverished region of Costa Rica.
Originally, her parents objected to the idea out of fear of her being alone in an unfamiliar area; however, with some persuasion they eventually gave in, realizing that she wasn’t doing this just for herself, but also for the people of Costa Rica.
“I thought it would be different from doing community service in my own community in that I would be experiencing something unknown to me away from those I know and care about. I went to Costa Rica with a goal in mind: to become more aware of the value of volunteering in impoverished areas.”
So she flew to La Carpio and started her community service work with other teenagers from all around the nation. The service required long hours and lots of effort to keep the projects running. Kadish said, “As a group we built structures for several houses, constructed cement floors, and dug holes for simple water systems. It was difficult to keep moving and stay on task, but once I saw how the Costa Rican residents admired it, it made it all worthwhile.”
In addition to building structures and water systems, Kadish worked with the children in Costa Rica. In her group, they played basketball, created masks, and had lots of fun. There was a language barrier, but it didn’t prevent them from connecting.
Kadish and the other volunteers decided to donate clothing, hats, and
toothpaste to the community. The children were ecstatic and couldn’t have felt more fortunate. “One kid named Aldo ran up to me, squeezed me real tight, with tears in his eyes, whispered ‘thank you’ to me and handed me a hand-made card. I never felt so good about myself in my life. What I did in Costa Rica, although small, really made a difference.”
At the end of the trip, Kadish started to have mixed emotions about leaving La Carpio. “Although I felt good about enhancing the lives of others, I was also upset and almost guilty because I was going back to a nice, comfy bed while the kids of La Carpio will probably stay in La Carpio their whole lives, not knowing anything different.”
Kadish believes that her experiences this summer helped her mature significantly. “This trip gave me a greater sense of identity. This trip made me more cognizant of the importance of volunteering. I wish I could have done more. Constructing houses and cleaning up wasn’t a particular service I liked, but their facial expressions and happiness made me feel as though I was actually contributing. Eventually I found the admiration I was waiting for in La Carpio.”
Volunteering Rocks! — Senior Alex Kadish (right) repairs a house in La Carpio, Costa Rica. She spent the summer volunteering there, where she “[enhanced] the lives of others” and “[matured] significantly.” Reproduced by permission of Alex Kadish