Hello! My name is Austin Blanton. I am currently a student enrolled at Brunswick Community College, in North Carolina. Ever since I was small, I have had an ardent passion for science, as well as a love for travel. Traveling abroad has been and continues to be one of my great dreams in life. For, though Costa Rica is not as far as, say, Europe, I will get the opportunity not only to learn about an ecologically diverse region, but i will also get to immerse myself in an entirely different culture. Although I have always greatly enjoyed science, I have held a deep passion for the arts in all its forms, as well. As I have matured, this passion has only grown.
As a youth, I quickly devoured books. This allowed me to broaden my horizons both in terms of my scientific knowledge, but my interest in the written word as well. Though I did not know it at the time, I was fast becoming a student of fiction. Early on, this was focused on my retellings of stories by or inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, but with a scientific bent. Later on, once I began High School, I began writing different kinds of stories, inspired as much by works such as The Lord of the Rings, as Beowulf. That is to say, I became enthralled with the Epic. What does all of this have to do with studying aborad? As I matured, I slowly began to think of myself as a writer, where I had always endeavoured to be a scientist before. As I practiced my art more and more, I began to realize the great love for language that I had harbored. Recently, I have had the opportunity to complete classes in Spanish, and I would relish the chance to get to interact with native speakers of the language. That alone will have a lasting impact on me.
However, to say that this trip will only enhance my artistic nature is a drastic understatement. For, although scientific and artistic creativity use many of the same areas in our brain, they are not precisely the same. This trip is, after all, a Biology course. Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet, so getting to visit that environment will be the fulfillment of dreams I have harbored since I was small. As a child, Costa Rica was often the subject of vibrant articles in National Geographic., my favorite publication. The images and stories therein of scientists venturing into remote rainforests in search of rare and endemnic species captured my imagination. To finally be able to go there, by climbing through the forset canopy, or wheeling through the swamplands, or navigating rapids, I will have the opportunity to experience things which I have dreamed about for many years.
By investing in this trip, you will give me the chance to do something that I have always wished to do. Unlike some of my peers, I have never had the opportunity to visit another country. I have always had an interest in other cultures and far-off vistas, but the closest I could get was from the pages of a book. I want to go forth, and see our world firthand, and your money will help me do that. In addition to the activities listed above, the trip costs also pay for air travel, and food whilst there.
Photo courtesy of National Geographic