Two weeks in the Costa Rican rainforest became the learning adventure of a lifetime. With each challenge overcome, you grow: within yourself, as a leader, as a community, and as a peacebuilder. My participation in this program has been a truly life changing experience. The wealth of knowledge and skills amassed in a period of two weeks, coupled with a new, extensive network of friends and colleagues, is simply incredible. The way in which I was able to touch the highest of mountains through rappelling, and reach the depths of lakes through swimming, show how I can create a sound program by planning and analyzing a situation.
In the ten days [of this program], I became able to understand that human societies work in cooperation with, and feel a profound physical and spiritual connection with, their natural environment. One of the immediate benefits was that my perception changed, and my senses became purified; thus, I began to see myself and my environment in a different light. This may result in me no longer seeing my circumstances as hellish, understanding that I have the power to change them in a positive way.
I learned about self and communities, the collective body of individuals who interact with one another. Each individual is born into a social environment with its own unique set of cultural or hereditary rules. A person is a product of this and equally contributes to and modifies it. This also encompasses other life forms. For example, walking through a forest, we can encounter a large amount of life forms, from birds above our heads to tiny organisms in the ground beneath our feet, all occupying their own unique environment and cycle of existence. Each one is joined to us by a thread of life.
I believe that if you drop a pebble, no matter how small, into a pond, the ripple will spread out in all directions and encompass everything in its path. I learned that we all have connections between the person and others around him or her.
I found my center point with the sound of waterfall. I reached to the depth of my energy and it was met with the depth of the mountain, forest, and water as I inhaled energy of depth. Catching the blue butterfly means the blue bright sky. Butterfly is the sign of blessing from universe and the circle of rainbow is the sign of colors, colors of diversity, peace and love.
My experience has changed me and these changes will definitely [help me] impact others, because this experience encouraged my wisdom, courage, and compassion to increase.
Shazia Bashir is a Program Specialist at Strengthening Participatory Organization in Pakistan. She is a 2016 alumna of our Practicum on Experiential Peacebuilding.