Pura Vida

A week has already passed since our wonderful experience at La Gran Vista farm in Costa Rica. I believe through our ten day service trip, our group got a lot closer for a great cause. The leadership of Donald Villalobos, our community partner was integral for the development of our experience because he really tried to provide us with multiple projects and also gave us a fresh perspective on what sustainability really means on a farm and the world around us.

On this experience, we learned about sustainable agricultural practices and how to reduce global impacts of harmful farming practices. As a diverse group of students, we not only learned how the world around us is connected but also got hands on experience. What I enjoyed the most about our trip were the conversations we had while working in the field. Working together under the sun gave us the opportunity to discuss topics about sustainability, education, globalism, and other topics with a more open perspective. I definitely grew from this experience and hope to be able to apply it back on campus.

#Rough Life

I soon learned after arriving that I did not bring enough clothes, hygiene supplies, or proper shoes on my trip! I should’ve known that you can bring more than a small carry on, but I treated this 9-day international trip more as a weekend camping trip and brought minimal supplies including: a water filter (which was not needed), a first aid kid (which I didn’t use), three pairs of shorts, a few shirts and underwear (which I continually had to wash and reuse). Too much information I know! Despite me being unprepared I had an amazing time and grew closer to all of the people on the trip. Not having enough clothes and supplies did make me smell more (just kidding=p) but it added to the overall experience and enhanced la vida de la finca or FARM LIFE.

I sincerely appreciated the daily routine of waking up when the rooster crowed, eating breakfast as a team, and dispersed to our daily jobs. Our work was rigorous and physically strenuous at times but it made me sweat and burn off those rice and beans I’ve been packing on throughout the trip which made it all worth it. After work we did get some time to relax, play some games and reflect by the fire which was always enjoyable and helped me learn about the thoughts of others as well as helped me solidify my own beliefs.

I will never forget the hospitality of the Villalobos family and all that they have done for us. They have showed me that it is possible to be happy and live a relatively stress-free life. They welcomed our group into the family as soon as we stepped into their home. Donald, who helped us with our work most of the time, taught us new skills to complete our jobs and was a great teacher as well. He showed us why we were doing the things we were doing and why they were important for the environment. Ultimately, this trip was the experience of a lifetime, as cliche as it sounds, it is true. I formed new relationships, I experienced a new culture, I learned new skills, I performed service for a cause I care about and had an amazing time simultaneously! As it turns out being smelly and not having enough clothes didn’t turn out so rough after all (don’t ask my other teammates though)!


Post-Trip Post

Being back on Lafayette’s campus right after staying in Costa Rica for 10 hot days has not been easy. All the hard, back-breaking work that we did in C.R. does not at all compare to the time-consuming, mental work at Lafayette. They are both equally difficult but in different ways. I honestly loved every aspect of the experience at C.R. especially the difficult, awkward, rough-life moments that challenged either individuals or us a group.

I remember my pre-trip post saying how much I didn’t know my group and I’m very glad to say that now I feel very comfortable around a good portion of them. I’m honestly very happy about this because I grew in so many different ways and I have found people that I see constantly on Lafayette’s campus but never thought that we would be good friends.

The scenery was unreal, that hot bathing water was so relaxing, the beach and rivers were as close to perfection as possible, and the food was pretty darn good and natural. I can’t compliment this place enough. The sweat that Donald put into this farm is definitely visible. It’s an outstanding place to be.

Running into two scorpions, falling a billion times, and piling the terrible sunscreen helped to make this experience so much richer.

Costa Rica 2012: Pre-Trip Thoughts

Costa Rica 2012: Pre-Trip Thoughts

It is the Winter after my Sophomore year of college, I’ve been very busy and time is flying by without me even realizing it at times. As I tell my friends and family that I am going to Costa Rica for a school trip there are two phases of responses. The first phase goes something like this “Wow! I heard Costa Rica is beautiful I’ve always wanted to go! You are so lucky, what are you doing there?!” I respond with something along the lines of “Yeah! I’m really excited it was kind of a spontaneous decision for me, we are working on sustainable agriculture!” After the words sustainable agriculture come out of my mouth that’s when the second response phase occurs: “Oh that sounds interesting!” it is not the tourist attraction most were expecting to hear; nonetheless I expect this trip to be a great experience that I will certainly never forget for a number of reasons.  

First off, it is the first time I am traveling without my family on an airline. Also, it is the first time
I traveling outside of the country other than Greece and Cyprus. I have never been to this part of the world before and I am looking forward to learning more about the culture and lifestyle of the people living in Jthese parts and having a more worldly view. This definitely marks a point in my life where I feel more independent and have the ability to make decisions that I know are best for me. This is one of the reasons why I applied to the ASB program. I am
also very motivated to do something good and be active in service. I haven’t really participated in that much volunteering since high school and it is something that I truly value and wish to continue throughout my lifetime.  Perhaps this marks the point where I begin to have a more active role in the community. 

I am currently writing this blogpost in the airport at 4am after I started packing only a few hours prior, I did not give this trip a lot of thought before departing but my attitude is that it will add to the excitement of the experience. I don’t know what to expect but I am up for anything and am eager to learn and do and that is what I’m looking forward to!

-Andrew Kamilaris

The Countdown From Newark Airport Begins

After completing my externship, it just hit me. I’m going to Costa Rica! In a few hours from now, I’ll be leaving from a flight out of here.

I really do not want to make any assumptions of our trip because as I have learned from a previous internship to Honduras two summers ago, I tend to over generalize. I’m ready to learn, meet new people, become closer to our team, and bring these new ideas and apply them to our campus.

I’m looking forward to learning more about Costa Rican culture and traditions. I even focused my Latin American history project on Costa Rica’s brief civil war. Finally, I want to continue to learn more about sustainable practices in different Latin American countries.


Pre-Trip Post

Less than two days until my trip and I am honestly more nervous that excited. Don’t get me wrong, my first time traveling to a different country other than the Dominican Republic is bound to make me excited. However, since I don’t know what to expect or how to fully prepare, that clouds my excitement. I barely know my team so that definitely adds to the nervousness. Anyone else who applies to ASB, I will definitely try to make them come to the meetings so they can feel a little more comfortable around their team. I would also do all I can do find out why they aren’t coming to meetings. I digress. All this worrying is for nothing but I’m so used to worrying that I don’t know what else to do. Not to mention that I don’t come from the most supportive place. Whatever. That’s never stopped me before, I’ll have fun, even by myself.

On a different note, I don’t have expectations. I want to go in this trip with no preconceived notions or judgments. Let’s do this.

I think this trip will be one of moments in my life I’d probably never forget. Even though I don’t know my team as well as I should and they don’t know me, they will be people that I will always remember and associate with my time in Costa Rica. I’m grateful that although my team leader and I don’t have the best relationship, I’m still a part of the group. Okay well I’m done blabbing right now. See you in a couple weeks! God Bless.

Pre-service Goals

I am getting more excited about the wonderful experiences that our team will have at La Gran Vista, a sustainable organic farm, each day we get closer to our departure. As a team, we’ve had a few months to get to know each other, learn more about Costa Rica, and individually think about what want to accomplish on our service trip. I imagine that each of us value certain elements of the trip differently. Before I leave, I want to reflect on the parts of the trip that I value personally and identify my personal goals for the upcoming service trip.

I spent much of the last few years learning about the environment and becoming a more informed citizen. Through my studies and the service work in which I participated in recent years, I learned much about the immediate problems facing the environment. I feel like have a slightly better understanding of the world as compared to when I first became interested in the environment; however, my picture of the world is incomplete, still developing, and constantly changing. I am excited to have a direct positive impact on the environment and to learn more about sustainable agriculture and the region of Costa Rica we will be traveling to.

It is a great privilege to be able to share the upcoming week with knowledgeable and interesting people who have similar values as myself, but as I have learned over the past few months, all come from different backgrounds and have unique experiences. I am really looking forward to learning more about my teammates not only during the trip, but also during the upcoming semester as we continue our service experience back in the Lafayette community.

Rather than looking at the work we do in Costa Rica as insignificant or something that will have a small impact on the world, I see nothing insignificant about this upcoming experience. This trip is a meaningful service learning opportunity that will help me shape my personal view of the world, and although I am off-campus for the direct service component of the trip, it will partially define how I remember my time at Lafayette. I am very much looking forward to my ASB trip to Costa Rica, and I look forward to sharing my expereince when I return.

Until then,


Costa Rica: Pre-Trip Post

We still have quite a while until we depart to Costa Rica, but I’m already so excited. Trying to explain this trip to my family throughout the holidays has only made me even more eager!

There will so much to do at La Gran Vista, including maintaining the medicinal herb plot, building new cabins for future volunteers, soil remediation, and even maintaining and safeguarding a manmade frog pond.

I am however a little worried about the drinking water situation. Our water supply will not be filtered or bottled, so it’s kinda risky in my opinion. Therefore, in addition to a water bottle that has a built in filter, I also purchased a LifeStraw. Winning numerous awards, including the best invention of 2005 and the first Award for Responsible Capitalism in 2011, the LifeStraw is a revolutionary product that has been praised world wide for providing safe and affordable drinking water for developing nations.