extended holidays in costa rica
After the happiest fourteen days of my life on a volunteering trip to Costa Rica, the next three days were doomed.
"You can't go back to the United States, your visa expired." said the airline agent when I gave him my passport to check in.
My first reaction was denial - 'How did I travel here without anyone telling me that my visa expired?' - and then it turned to anger, depression, and finally acceptance. I was stuck in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers, speaking a language in which I only knew how to ask for the bathroom. I was not frightened, though-I consider myself more generally sanguine than others- because I learned earlier that being a crybaby does not solve any problem in life. A staff member from an organization of the trip, named Erika, helped me through the process of getting my temporary visa. We waited outside an embassy for five hours, only to be told by the security guard that we must have an appointment to be let in. Otherwise, we would have to wait two days.
While I was calculating how many days I could stay in Costa Rica without going bankrupt, I remembered feeling frustrated like I was at the time by my inability to change my circumstances. When I had just immigrated from Korea without knowing any English, I could not defend myself against bullies in school, and my mother would scold me for getting C's in classes where I had to use a translator for everything.
I had no one to stand up for me then, but this time was different: I had Erika. My Spanish-speaking savior tearfully said to the security guard, "She is only fifteen years old! Her mother wants her home. Can you please help her go back?" Miraculously, the security guard felt sorry for me and made an emergency appointment, which made it possible for me to get my visa to fly back home. I was surprised that Erika was so selfless in helping me and remained kind to me despite the trouble I caused her. It meant so much to me because growing up with a working mother and a father living abroad, I had to mature quickly and rely solely on myself to work out my problems since the last thing I wanted to do was to worry my parents. Such times became a solid basis of my path to become an active advocate for people who are ostracized and unable to speak for themselves due to factors like the language barrier, age, and race.
Life does not always work out the way you want it to or I would be engaged to Prince Harry right now. So I just decided to learn from the times when my life does not go the way I want it to; I learned to always look for ways in which I can make my life better, which made me go out of my comfort zone to find new things. Looking for something engaging made me become involved in activities I now am fond of like tennis, working at the library, leading Youth to Youth club, and participating in a volunteering trip to Costa Rica. Along the way, I was lucky enough to find people who were like sunlight in my growing and undoubtedly, Erika was one of them. With great appreciation for how she was putting my needs before her own to assist me, her kindness has stuck with me since then and it inspires me to do the same for others.