Nelson Mandela once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.” Courage is also the driving force behind our most daring adventures. As I reflected on our hike to El Yunque National rain forest, it was evident that courage was present in taking steps toward something none of us had ever attempted. Climbing a mountain that towered over us, ziplining from one point to another, sliding down massive rocks with waterfalls, and tight rope walking as we held for our dear life with our harnesses, and jumping off a 30 ft cliff that felt infinite, as my heart sunk to my stomach until I reached the water. The hike was the epitome of daring, adventurous, and thrilling.

Waking up on that day, I had no expectations in particular, but what I experienced on that day would have surpassed my expectations if I had any for the day. Once we arrived at the location, we suited up for the day. We rode behind a pickup truck up a steep mountain in our helmets and life jacket, not knowing what daring adventure we were in for. My peers and I were willing to respond fearlessly despite the anxiety and worry tugging at our hearts once we heard and saw what was demonstrated by the staff members that we would do. We understood what we were afraid of, but we refused to allow that fear to paralyze us from experiencing what turned out to be one of the trip’s most memorable moments.

That day for the first time, I felt like I belonged. I felt like we were indeed in sync because none of us was doing this alone, we were able to acknowledge that we were scared, but we weren’t going to limit ourselves from this opportunity. We experienced this experience together, motivating and encouraging each other. It was a raw, uncut, and wholesome experience. As one of my peers, Nate Magaw, said, he’s been taking it upon himself to “do it scared.” Even though fear may have been at the front of our hearts, we managed to overcome that fear. I feel like that day, we all did it scared. In the end, I learned that to triumph over fear you have to choose to act despite the feeling of fear; embracing courage allows us to see the world from a different perspective. To understand someone else’s culture, we must be courageous to try the experiences that they have to offer.


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