By Shane Taleisnik, a participant on the URJ Camp Newman Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica trip


Today was absolutely unbelievable; going into this experience with uncertainty, the opportunities we have been given have already exceeded all of my expectations.

Costa Rica is very green with numerous areas of poverty and a ridiculous amount of mountains. Our cohesive community traveled to La Carpio today, a small, poor village about 20 minutes away from San Josè. With a population of 35,000 and not too many houses, it was expected that houses would be crowded, kids would be roaming the streets, and roads would be unpaved. That was the best part. Our initial assignment was to help build a road, or pathway, from scratch with cement, rocks, water, buckets, and shovels.

It wasn’t just the completion of the road that was so fulfilling; I met an unbelievable amount of satisfied, thrilled, and compassionate little kids (or amigos) who showed me the beauty of simplicity. I couldn’t help it, so I bought ice cream and handed it out to the kids. What I gave to them was nothing compared to what they had given me: appreciation, happiness, and unmatchable patience.

I can’t wait to directly impact more and more people’s lives through enhancing the infrastructure, building centers, or just handing out ice cream. ¡PURA VIDA!