PAA Teen Studies Abroad

March 01, 2007 | Liesl Vistaunet

At just 16, Trevor Haynes, a Portland Adventist Academy junior, got on a plane to leave his home, his school, and all that is comfortable. He spent the next four plus months in Costa Rica, grappling with Spanish, tasting unusual food, and collecting amusing anecdotes for his friends back home.

Haynes attended the Adventist University of Central America and took courses like Bible, history and biology. Having not yet studied Spanish, the transition wasn’t easy. But Haynes made friends who helped him in his studies and immersed him in local culture.

“It was two in the morning when a bunch of them came and dragged me out of bed,” he remembered. “They took me outside and pelted me with eggs and cold water! It was my birthday and that’s a tradition.” Later in the day more friends surprised him with a birthday cake. Instead of blowing out candles, they smashed it in his face and continued with a food fight.

Haynes’s cultural adventures didn’t always end with flying food though. He observed differences both good and bad. “I loved how relaxed they were,” he recalled. “They don’t rush and worry as much as we do here in America."

Haynes arrived back home in time to celebrate Christmas with his family. He also arrived with a newfound appreciation for the gifts under the tree. “I understand how blessed I am to have been born here,” he said.

He is hoping to travel more, perhaps spending a year at an Adventist school in Argentina or Spain.