testimony from rose-anaÏs, group travel grant awardee (winter 2019)
Pura Vida is a synonym of pure life, but after working on that project for a year and half, it means much more than that to me. It means unforgettable moments of happiness, joy, discovery, autonomy and fulfillment, but above anything it means self-improvement.
When I first heard of Pura Vida, I instantly knew it was a project for me, because I really suck at school. I have bad grades and I often lack motivation to go to class, even if I try my best. When I heard that they were looking for low-performing students, I thought "Finally a project for people like me! Count me in!" For once I might have a chance to be selected. I was asked to write a letter of interest describing the reasons why I wanted to join the group. It might sound stupid, but without hesitating I answered that it’s because I suck at school. I needed motivation and adventure in my life and this project was the only one not requiring good grades, being specifically designed for at-risk students. It would also allow me to meet new people, create new bonds and friendships, because when I embarked on this journey I didn’t have any close friend. Some people were saying that "Pura Vida was a stupid project, for dummies and rejects" and I wanted to prove them wrong. When I left, these people confessed they regretted not applying, because Pura Vida looked cool in the end and I was lucky to be part of it.
Pura Vida is an incredible experience which, I think, I will cherish forever. It wasn’t easy for me at first to reach out to the members of the group because I’m very shy, but little by little we started to connect with each other. I started feeling more comfortable and my timidity lowered thanks to all the preparatory activities that were organized. I changed a lot throughout this exceptional experience; in a certain way, Pura Vida transformed me. I am more confident and organized (all the little things I kept forgetting everywhere… I practised taking my time to make sure I wouldn’t forget anything) so I learned that organization is vital not to be a nuisance to the rest of the group. I also learned that when you are part of a team, you need to help each other out, listen to each other and be tolerant to have a good time. It wasn’t always easy during the trip, but we found a good balance and enjoyed each other’s company. I liked having to work for my trip because spending days at the grocery wrapping bags or at the park supervising the inflatable games allowed me to develop my patience. And work on my impatience; I had to wait 18 months for the trip! It made me realize that a year and a half seems like forever when you are excited to leave, but upon return, it seems like you worked on the project for a couple months at most and it feels like the trip lasted only 3 days. Time flies by so fast I can’t even believe it.
We did many activities during the trip and even though I liked them all, some left a bigger impression on me. A moment of sheer happiness was learning to surf. I understood the meaning of perseverance and felt such a strong sense of accomplishment when I successfully stood on the board. Facing unexpected events was also a good experience. I also really liked to sunbathe on the beach with Sofia and some tanning lotion. There were too many good moments to write them all. We all created many beautiful memories. If you ask me to talk about the Pura Vida experience, I can’t help but smile. It’s pure happiness. It reminds me of all the good times, the awesome stories. It simply is an unforgettable opportunity that should be available to every at-risk student because it was motivating, enriching and rewarding.
-Rose-Anaïs, Le Sommet High School (Pura Vida academic perseverance project)