We woke up early this morning. Nothing is quite so inviting as a pillow when there are things to be done. Nevertheless, my day as El Lider del Dia began with twenty tired faces- tired, yes, but awake – ready to march on to breakfast. Before us would lie an arduous challenge, and yet few of us expected what sort of experience awaited us: we would be climbing a volcano. The singsong Quote of the Day came from the illustrious Walt Disney: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” While Disney, a pioneer of entertainment, certainly engineered the impossible at several points in his life, few of us believed ourselves to be such doers of the impossible, such daredevils without a cause, to have the capability to scale an active volcano and slide down at high speeds. For us, the “Cerro Negro trip” was but a blip on the radar as we looked on towards the near future, such as whether we would be able to take a nap today or whether it would be Gallo Pinto (Beans and Rice) for breakfast again. We couldn’t have known that the day’s experience would be unforgettable.
The trucks that would take us to El Cerro Negro, which means “The Black Hill,” arrived with the supplies that we would wear on our backs. Each student would be carrying a backpack with a safety suit, goggles, and gloves up the mountain, along with the 25-pound board that we would be using to slide down. After a long and rickety drive, El Cerro Negro stared us down, an enormous black mound that stood out among the verdant hills surrounding it.
“How tall is it?” asked one student. “Are we going to the summit?” asked another.
El Cerro Negro is 1,000 feet high. And yes, we went to the summit.
We began treading the jagged rocks haphazardly, our footholds occasionally crumbling beneath us. The students’ will to go on, through sickness and injury, both surprised me and made me swell with pride at the resilience of the high school senior, despite the fact that we are commonly stereotyped as complainers. Each and every student slipped on a small patch of loose rocks, felt the harsh winds hit their boards and drag them slightly, and, after over an hour of hiking, made it to the top. One motivating factor was an inspiring character we met today by the name of Aaron, a former Global Glimpse in-country leader who guided us up the volcano, always keeping a positive spirit, being talkative, and ensuring that we were all safe. We sat triumphantly atop the volcano that day, happy that the only direction we would travel would be down (and away from the huge wasps that swarmed atop the volcano). As we slid down one by one, we felt the rush of the wind (and rocks) hitting our face and the realization that hard work does indeed pay off – the joy of sliding down the volcano, many of us felt, outweighed any discomfort from climbing it.
As the Lider del Dia, my responsibilities included acting as a responsible leader towards students, keeping everyone together, and being a source of inspiration towards students. This last challenge loomed over me in the same way that El Cerro Negro did, for I, in my life, have never climbed a mountain. For me, such a feat seemed impossible as the black mass came into view. However, with the climb now behind me, I see why the people behind Global Glimpse chose Mr. Disney’s words: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Today I learned that, truly, nothing is impossible. There are simply things that have never been done before. Certainly eighty years ago man would never land on the moon. An “internet” would not link the world in one global network. These things were simply impossible. Similarly, even a year ago, I might have said “I will never go to Nicaragua,” or “I wouldn’t climb an active volcano.” Impossibility is within us, and it is our own spirit, motivation, and ingenuity that achieves what we think is impossible. And that, as Disney said, is kind of fun.