We as human beings are meant to live in community. I think living, working, and playing with 100 other people without technology has brought me back to what it means to be human. It means to be vulnerable. To take courage and apologize. To stand behind your true self instead of personas. To never underestimate the power that one thought, one word, one action, one person, one conversation can have to alter someone’s life. We are here to help each other on our path’s of healing.

Photo by Carter Clark

Even though Kalu Yala is a beautiful place, the people is what makes it amazing. The people is what enriches it all. The people is what makes it a happy place to be. Living with like-minded people is incredibly awesome, and every person is so different with his or her different experiences, pasts, knowledge, and interests. There is something special about like-minded people coming together from across the world. I remember the interns were required to have their personal project proposals submitted by the end of week 2. We are also not allowed to use the wifi for two weeks. We didn’t understand how we were supposed to submit our proposals but couldn’t use the internet to do research. But then, we got it. The people around us are walking googles. You don’t need Google, because you can just ask the people around you. Everyone knows something about something, we just never ask. We turn away to our phones for knowledge because we are afraid to ask another person a question. Also, Kalu Yala was the most judgement free zone I’ve been a part of. We wore the same clothes, didn’t wear makeup, didn’t use mirrors, and loved each other deeply.

I loved connecting with every single person at Kalu Yala and across Panama for they are the ones that filled my heart and mind with acceptance, warmth, love, kindness, courage, openness, fun, spontaneity, newness, and knowledge. I am eternally grateful for this life-long community.

Photo by Carter Clark

Now, I’m living back in my hometown of 18 years in Portland, Oregon. There is not a day that goes by without thinking about Kalu Yala. However, I am extremely thankful to be able to come back to a place like Portland. A city that values sustainability, local food, local businesses, kindness, and nature. But, above all, just like in Kalu Yala, my family and friends’ love towards me is what made the transition easier. In the future, I definitely want to live in a place where life is focused around building community. I value being involved in what is local, what is next to where you live. And if there’s any reason why we should move, it’s because of community. People are what make our lives better or worse, so surround yourself with the ones that inspire you, encourage you, accept you, energize you, and love you well.

Bottom line:

I love people and I love you.