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Food for Thought: First Bite of Life

Joined: 11/12/2014
Posts: 2
My head was pounding and my ears were throbbing. My clothes smelt like the airplane I had just spent the last five hours on: a mix of the scents of each person who had occupied my seat. I wondered if I left my own mark in that chair, my own scent that would one day be carried into Costa Rica by another nervous seventeen year old. I wanted nothing more than a hot shower and the comfort of my own bed, but instead I sat surrounded by unfamiliar faces of fellow volunteers with the knowledge that the water was cold and my bed was 3975.53 miles away.

I wanted to go home. I wanted to get on the next flight and retreat back into my comfort zone, the bubble of Brielle that I call home. I wanted to feel my mother’s arms and hear the familiar sound of my friend’s laughter. I hadn’t even been in Costa Rica long enough to adjust to the not-so-dramatic two hour time difference, but my racing mind warned me that perhaps I never would. Two weeks, I told myself. I was here to volunteer, to gain a sense of productivity that could not be achieved while sitting on Manasquan Beach. Two weeks, I reminded myself.
I feigned a sense of excitement and answered with enthusiasm when our chaperone inquired if we wanted walk around San Jose to find something to eat. While not eager to leave the hotel and enter, yet another, new area of unknown, I was simply grateful to hear words spoken in English in contrast to the foreign sounds that surrounded me.

My surroundings continued to change as the distance between past and present grew. My eyes caught traces of things I had only ever read about. What seemed like a rarity back in New Jersey was the norm here in San Jose. Poverty, decay, yet happiness. The city radiated energy and optimism. Hope was reflected in the dimmed lights and paint chipped storefronts. The possibility felt so strange to me, but it was contagious enough that I agreed to eat at an authentic Costa Rican “soda” restaurant, with an exterior similar to the surrounding buildings, instead of the neighboring McDonalds that advertised universal meals like Big Macs and McNuggets.

Our orders were translated by our chaperone and then we waited. Flies swarmed our fresh flesh, seemingly aware of our status as tourists, as we watched the delicate process proceeding behind the counter. They cooked with such care, paying impressive attention to tasks as simple as peeling a plantain. Our plates were presented as art. It seemed that every last morsel of food was strategically placed. I remember being unable to eat at first. It was not the flies that prevented me from digging in, or my nerves, but instead the beauty of the dish, the beauty of the country. In that moment I lost all past reserves. I simply picked up my fork and took a bite out of life.
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Food for Thought essay being chosen as 1 of the 11 essays in the running for 1st place for our November 2014 teen writing competition. Be proud of your accomplishment. We had almost 200 essays submitted for November’s contest.

We are in the process of selecting our top three winners, and naming the 1st place winner from the narrowed field.

We will post all winning essay results by December 31st. You can check this page for the results after December 31st:

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Friday, December 5, 2014 1:00:07 PM
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Food for Thought essay being selected as our second place Teen Essay for November 2014.

To view all the results of our November 2014 contest, please check our winners page on or after December 31st:

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 4:59:42 PM
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