The countdown isn’t over for 8 young Paterson women.  The New Year’s Eve ball may have dropped, but they are still counting the days until they leave for the rain forests of Costa Rica’s Osa peninsula on January 13.

This will be the third group of young women that PEF has sent abroad to experience service learning about science and ecology in an international setting. Our two previous trips went to Grenada where Mrs. Laldee, group leader, served in the Peace Corps.  All of the young women are former students of Mrs. Laldee at School 2 and members of Girls United for the Earth [GUFE]. Four are high school students and four attend college.

They have big dreams: there are future doctors, scientists and teachers among them. This trip affirms for them that their big dreams are attainable.

One of PEF’s funders  asked us about how our work is “transformative.” This is one of those transforamtive experiences.  Already in their young lives these young women have experienced being uprooted, homeless and poor.  But they have also experienced a caring school and passionate teachers. Their families are rooting them on.  They have helped raise funds for this trip. We’ve taught them about giving and our expectation that they themselves will give back. And the PEF, its donors and the Community Fund for New Jersey’s Eleanor Stinton Mills Foundation are providing the resources to give them insights about themselves that will last a lifetime.

I love to see the stars in their eyes as they prepare to go. I am always awed by the look of self awareness and competence that they bring back with them.

We hope that they will post on line during the trip as the Osa sanctuary has good telecommunications.  They’ll stay in touch by Skype. I’ll let you know how they are doing.

Happy New Year!