_MG_8717Julia Greenbaum, Tustin, CA

One of our three counselors, Dani, called me on the phone about a week prior to this trip and asked, “At the end of this trip, what would success be for you?”

Without fully thinking through this, I replied from the top of my head, “Knowing that I changed someone in a positive way.”

Now that it’s our last day on this unreal journey, I’ve realized a trip success for me was actually the opposite of me changing someone else. Success for me was being inspired, being taught, being impacted and changed by them, the Costa Ricans we worked with.

More than anything, I believe they provided us with the true meaning of love. Whether it was how the little boys of La Carpia would tap me on the shoulder and start running to reveal they wanted to play with me, or the well-known happy man of the Yorkin river, who was always smiling, shouting “Pura Vida!” to make us laugh, or how the Bribri explained that their home was our home, love had never been so clear to me. I couldn’t be more grateful to share such a word with such extraordinary people.

Below is a video Julia created about their trip. Enjoy!


Rachel Fetterman, Long Beach, CA

The most amazing thing today was the quick, almost secret glance I had at a crater. The weather wasn’t ideal; it was cold and windy. I speak for everyone when I say how tired we all were. However, despite some rather negative circumstances, nothing compared to the breathtaking sight of that crater. When the clouds seemed to part and move just for us, all of the negativity and discomfort vanished. The crater seemed to tell me just how amazing this trip would be, simply because after our travel difficulties, we still caught a rare sighting of something magnificent.


image1Abby Fry, Los Altos, CA

My clothes sticking to my body and my shoulders hurting from carrying my heavy pack. My muddy boots on my feet, and exhaustion overcoming me. Rain pouring down and soaking my perfectly straightened hair. All of a sudden I stopped caring about how my hair and makeup looked, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to fix it in the village. The rain sparkled and I smiled. Eventually, I started laughing and no longer cared about my appearance.


image6Jensine Olson, Chandler AZ

After many hard days of work, I am sad to see my time in Costa Rica is gone. For many days, we were taken into a village in Bribri. Between working many hours in the indigenous village of Yorkin to hiking through the rainforest – calf deep in mud in the pouring rain, to playing futbol with the village kids, to swimming from Costa Rica to Panama. And don’t forget tackling the tarantulas on our beds. It was a trip of a lifetime. With no light, no air conditioning, soaking wet muddy clothes, and cold showers.

It’s been a hard, exhausting experience. But it’s also been the most inspiring and eye-opening opportunity. Words can’t describe the beauty of this country. Living in a big city in Arizona, all I see are buildings and desert. Seeing this land and all it has to offer with its fresh fruits growing all around, the greenest and lushest trees you could ever imagine, and the lack of trash in the water and on land can’t be described as anything but completely amazing.

I’m blessed to have been taken into this community, to spend the last two weeks with the most happy and genuine people I’ve ever met. They took us in like we were family. Getting to spend my time working and living with the people who have close to nothing and live there lives purely happy and as a community, shows me how many things we take for granted. It’s been one hell of a trip.

#PuraVida #Summer2015


Carly Feinstein, Calabasas, CA (A goodbye speech given the final evening)

Where do I even begin. This has been the experience of a lifetime. Every moment and experience on this trip was honestly incredible and not like I had anticipated. To be honest, I was pretty nervous on July 22nd, anxious when I woke up on the 23rd, and over the moon going to bed at the Westin. I never thought a room full of strangers would become some of my best friends in only 10 days.

It’s incredible to see how far we have grown as a community since that first night. I anticipated a fun filled, jam packed, touristy Costa Rica vacation, but came out of it with so much more. I learned so much about myself along the way. I learned that you can overcome any obstacle as long as you work together. Also, embrace every moment.

By doing mitzvahs, I’ve not only made a difference on the lives of others but they also have made an impact on me and have made me a better person. The dirt, sweat, and the rain will all go away but these memories will stay with us forever. I am extremely grateful for the chance to do all these amazing things and learn with the Costa Rican people. Having this once in a lifetime opportunity to travel and give back to this beautiful world that has given so much to me is so incredibly satisfying. I want to thank God for keeping us safe, happy, and healthy, as we embarked on our journey. Most importantly, I want to thank you guys for making me laugh harder than I ever have before and allowing me to truly be myself. I really hope we all stay in touch and this will not be a goodbye but rather a see you soon. Together we are not just a Kehilah Kedosha, but rather a family. Never forget that this life, it truly is a ¡Pura Vida!