Reid Fong

Sometimes, it takes a new environment to open your eyes to the blessings and familiarities you have around you. There are many things that are taken for granted in some societies that do not exist in others, such as electricity and running water. Civilization brings with it nice roads to drive on, developed buildings, restaurants, and social rules such as keeping your pets on a leash. However, in the jungle, none of these things can be counted on to exist. Since I grew up in San Francisco and Los Angeles, big cities and lots of people were always my comfort zone. In the city, you have all the water and power you need, and you never have to worry about lighting candles to be able to see or getting clean by washing off in the ocean.
When I moved to Guanacaste in Costa Rica, I had no idea what to think. I drove down the road on the back of an ATV, with my suitcase falling off my shoulder and dust burning my eyes. Suddenly, I looked up and saw a little family of monkeys staring down at me from the power line. It was at that moment I realized I was very far away from Los Angeles. I got to my house and realized in the hour I had been outside, I had been bitten by 20 mosquitoes. The bite marks went away, but the feeling of discomfort from the bugs, dust, mud, wild animals and the new environment stayed.
However, it wasn’t until about six or seven months into my experience when I truly found out the true scarcity of natural resources. I went to the beach to watch the sunset and hang out with my friends. When I drove up to my house on the ATV coming back from the beach, I noticed there were no lights on. My mom told me that we would have no power or water for the next five days. I proceeded to set up candles in different places of the house as well as hanging flashlights in strategic places so my family and I could see. Also, because we had no water, every morning that week, I took my shampoo and walked down to the ocean to shower. While I did all of these tasks, I pictured my life in Los Angeles and wondered how different my life would have been if I had spent my entire youth in a third world country. When I came back to the United States, I observed life at home and life at Prep. I had running water at home and water fountains at school. I had lights in every room and I could drive down a road that didn't shoot dirt and dust in my eyes and eat at a restaurant where I wasn’t plagued by mosquitos. So, if there's any lesson to be learned here, it is to not take the little things for granted. Whatever you have that may seem 100% normal to you, someone else doesn’t have. This teaching experience allowed my eyes to open to the differences in lifestyles and to be grateful for the things I have. Thank you.