Since being here I learned to let go and breath through the most frustrating of situations. I am a happier, calmer, and frankly, more whole whole as a person. I have come to accept self-improvement as a journey not a destination. I have learned to be comfortable with discomfort. I have learned to accept others and respect all different walks of life as being equal.
Our high school runs 12 week-long expeditions each year and the Give & Surf trip is epic: all the best elements of outdoor adventure, expeditionary learning, cultural immersion, and natural beauty. Moreover, our work with the Ngobe children and ecotourism was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support indigenous ways while they are still existing. Go now!
It was a great experience being a volunteer. I really enjoyed every minute in Bocas del Toro. Seeing my little heroes waiting and screaming Marina every morning made me feel really happy. But also working with the teacher Marialena and Vaneza & the Give and Surf team was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed my time - it was the best time in my life. I miss my Piru. I will come back soon. Thank you Give and Surf!
Working with Give & Surf was the best and most important 3 years of my life. There was no other period that shaped me so dramatically in a positive direction than the time spent with them. I can look back on those years and think about all of the things we did, projects completed, classes and programs taught, connections made, but the biggest changes I think happened to me personally, and also to many of the volunteers we had. There’s nothing else in the world like the experience that Give & Surf and the Bocas del Toro environment offers.
Fast forward to 2021, I am married with a 1 year old baby girl and living on Isla Solarte in the community where I led my first english course with Give & Surf. It’s very special to me that some of my best students from that course are now my closest neighbors! We are also very excited to announce that we will soon be opening a small overwater bungalow B&B, called Sol Bungalows (open as of May 2021).
Through being out of my comfort zone, I grew so much in so many unprecedented ways on the trip- from improving my soccer and friendship bracelet skills to being a kinder friend. And, I feel like this was so driven by my incredible trip mates, and to our amazing trip leaders. Despite coming from completely different backgrounds and life experiences, our group was so connected and dynamic. I feel that because of this very reason, we were able to spread so much joy, and have gained tools to continue to do so in all aspects of our lives.
Additionally, the lessons I learned from the kids on the various islands come to the forefront of my mind when I think about this trip. I learned to treasure every day because you'll never know if a crocodile will steal the soccer ball before the next game. I learned the power of a smile and the strength of a positive attitude. And most importantly, I learned to hold on tight to the kids hanging on my back, because we have to hold on tight to the people we love.
A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” – William Arthur Ward “A classroom full of smiles from the preschool students of Escuelita is the fondest memory I have volunteering with Give and Surf. From school boat pick-ups to making paper bag animal puppets to a fun-filled field day, spending time with the most appreciative and happiest children I’ve met was a blessing. The unique community of Bahia Honda greeted me with kindness, as I spent a short stint teaching in Bocas and I instantly fell in love with this exotic place. I decided to spend my birthday giving and helping others but in the end I found they’ve given me much more. Jungle life in this peaceful paradise is a wonderful experience but it’s the people that make Bocas memorable. Give and Surf is an amazing organization and I’m proud to be part of the family. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to work with Neil, Mike, Cindy, Eddie and some awesome volunteers from around the world in joining forces to provide assistance to the indigenous Ngobe people. I look forward to seeing those smiles again!”
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