At the end of each day, everyone on the trip announced their highs and lows of the day. Not once was their a low that outweighed the abundance of incredible highs we all experienced. My lows were trivial little things, like the lack of hot water. But my highs were life changing. Some of my personal favorite highs include seeing and swimming in the most beautiful waterfall, becoming so close with my host family, and being accepted into the tight knit community of San Gerardo.

On one of the first days of the trip, we went on a long hike. I have never been hiking before, and being from Long Island, mountains are not something I see everyday. I do not know what exactly I expected, but I do know that I could never have imagined something as beautiful as the waterfall that was waiting for us at the end of our hike. We all stood in silence and awe as we stared at the breathtaking beauty that nature had created. The sounds of animals and insects overlapping the sound of the water rushing down the waterfall all created a harmonious symphony, creating a feeling of pure joy. It was by far the most beautiful site I have ever seen.

By the end of the trip, I felt a real connection with Rosibel and Mariellos. They welcomed me into their home, treating me with love and kindness. In the beginning of the trip, the other participants and I called our host family members, host mom or host dad or host sister and etc. However, as we developed stronger bonds with our families, we quickly dropped the “host,” in their titles. Rosibel became my real sister, and Mariellos became my real mom. For 10 days, I felt nothing but love from my family. And I could not be more grateful of that.

The village of San Gerardo is very small and very tight knit. I am honored to have been accepted so smoothly into their loving community. It was evident how accepting the community was at the moment we arrived in San Gerardo. The people waited for us on the soccer field, not one person was without a smile on his/her face. They looked so happy and excited. Besides just our host families, the community as a whole was completely accepting of us. They were eager to make us feel at home. We were invited to join the teenagers in their nightly soccer matches, and although our skills were not quite up to par, they continued to pass us the ball and encourage us to participate. Little things like this really made me feel at home.