“I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Today marked the final day of our trip to Costa Rica. Our day began at 3:45 am with 21 students, 3 staff, a trip coordinator, and one faithful bus driver loading our bags on the bus. The drive to the airport went quickly; the trip home always does seem to go faster. As we drove it was fun to reflect on the events of the previous ten days. I was struck by how different Costa Rica looked and sounded at 4:00 in the morning as opposed to our daily treks through sunny, humid tropics. When I first imagined Costa Rica, I pictured tropical beaches and lush rainforests, but now my perspective is different: My reality has changed.
Now when I think about Costa Rica, I envision the beauty of the coast, the diversity of the rainforest, the balance of eco-friendly farming, the amazing structures of sustainable power, and the challenges that come from implementing sustainable practices. As a group, our realities were challenged with each lesson, poco a poco, dia a dia (little by little, day by day): our collective vision of what it meant to be a farmer; what it means to use sustainable energy; what it means to be a student; and what it means to support free trade. Our framework for understanding the macrosystem that is community living and food production in Central America evolved throughout the week as we made comparisons between the United States profit driven, monoculture, industrial farming systems.
The unique grouping of agricultural students with human sciences allowed us to bridge understanding and gain unique perspectives about each person’s conceptual framework. Through these conversations, we were able to create meaningful relationships with other students outside of our field and powerful relationships with members of the communities we visited. With each group lesson, side conversation, and reflective observation our perceptions of our realities changed. We changed—we grew stronger as individuals, and more globally conscious of the decisions we make as consumers. As some of us arrive home (despite travel delays) or continue our journey through Costa Rica, we have been enriched by the beauty of Costa Rica and impacted by the relationships we made with others.
From here, we can only hope to bring the lessons of Costa Rica home with us. We can incorporate our new realities into conversations with our friends, families, and colleagues. We can advocate for minor changes in our farming practices and purchases. One thing is certain; Costa Rica has impacted the lives of everyone who traveled within its welcoming borders. Our realities have been altered, and we look forward to seeing the ripple effect of our trip in our day to day lives back in Nebraska.