The following is a talk that Graham delivered to the Upper School students and faculty during a recent Friday Speaker address.
By: Graham Bacher (’13)
This past summer, a group of GFA students and teachers, including me, returned to the Costa Rican village of Linda Vista on a service learning trip. I’m not here to talk about the Global Initiatives. I’m here to talk about an amazing journey, and what it meant for me.
While in Linda Vista, I helped build a playground for the local school, which teaches nearly all the children of Linda Vista, with one teacher. When I first arrived, there was little more than a dirt patch and poured concrete outside the school. By the end, we had created something that was a source of pride for us, the school and the community. My group focused on building a climbing net for the playground, out of little more than some logs and nylon rope. Creating it was a challenge in problem solving and teamwork, and by the end I was completely exhausted, but incredibly happy. I made a real contribution to a group of people I knew deserved it, and had made some new friends and learned some new skills along the way
Day to day, Costa Rica pushed me out of my comfort zone- I tried new foods, met new people and put myself in situations I never thought I could. Each opportunity was a valuable one, and I eventually realized that every time I took a risk or did something new, I was rewarded. This lesson was a tough one to learn, such as on the end of our first full day. I was exhausted. There was little I felt like doing, except collapsing into bed after a draining day. However, one of our guides suggested if anyone was interested, we could go on a night hike through the jungle. It took all my willpower to climb out of my bed and get dressed in the damp tropical heat, but what I then experienced will stay in my mind forever. As we walked into the jungle, the earth transformed. Pitch black except for our small headlamps, the jungle became a surreal world, with animals both beautiful and terrifying lurking in the shadows. At one point, we all stood still, and turned off our headlamps. The total blackness and chaos of sound was strangely peaceful, and that feeling will stay with me for a long time. All of this came just from the will to go out and do something.
So I encourage you, go out and do something, even if it’s not building a playground or walking through the dark halfway around the world. Not just so you can tell everyone about it, like I’m doing right now. You just might discover something that you didn’t know was there before- in a friend, in a stranger or in yourself.