During the summer of 2013 I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and work with a wonderful team of individuals whose mission was and still is to grow and learn through helping those who are less fortunate. Little did I know that I was the one who would be transformed by the whole experience. As we visited the people of La Carpio and Fraijanes, we were able to provide medical care and treatment for many and in doing so, I realized that there are people in need across the globe, even in my hometown of Kerrville, TX. It was a heart and mind changing experience and probably the greatest learning opportunity of my career.
During one of our many days in Costa Rica, our team leader, Edwin proposed a challenge of sorts and it has spurred me to continue in my pursuit to help others while learning. He said, “If you can do one thing without worrying about resources and without a sense of failure, what are you going to do?” My heart and mind have struggled to find the answer to this question and over the summer I realized I had the answer all along. It’s not about what I am going to do for the rest of my life, it is about now. What can I do today? So, knowing my personal strengths and weaknesses, I now volunteer on my local Red Cross Board and I work with the elderly and those who are dying in my community. In my eyes, these people are the forgotten. They crave human interaction and affection. It is such a small request, yet it means the world to these individuals. For now, this is what I can do. However, I will never stop looking for the “for now’s”. This is what I can do today without worrying about resources and whether or not I am going to fail. I am committed to my family, faith, andmy community. My experience in Costa Rica has led me to be less committed to my own wants and needs and allowed me to be more aware of the wants and needs of my community. This is where I will continue to serve until another “for now” opportunity shines its bright light in my heart.
Thank you, ISL, for all you have given me.
-Jennifer Wootton, Schreiner University
ISL Alumnus and 2nd place winner of ISL’s “Think Global, Act Local” essay contest