Yosemite High School junior Hannah Myatt has earned a scholarship to live in Costa Rica, but she isn’t going there for the nice beaches. Myatt is off with Global Leadership Adventures, a program that allows teenagers to do community service abroad.
Because she has always had a passion for animals, she has chosen to participate in the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Project during her 21-day stay, which began July 22.
While there, Myatt will tend to abandoned animals, teach people how to care for them, participate in hands-on workshops, and share her love for the wild with children of the area.
The location of the trip actually holds a special place in Myatt’s heart.
“Over a year ago, my mom went to Costa Rica and told me about all the stray animals there,” Myatt explained. “My immediate response was to ask if she helped them. I wanted to do something, but being so far away, it was hard. When I came across this program, I felt it was meant for me.”
Now, Myatt can finally be directly involved in the rescue of animals and make a difference. She feels confident in her ability to connect and share with children there.
“I am a very out going person and I’m not afraid of talking to people I don’t know,” Myatt said. “I’m sort of a child at heart, so I tend to click with children faster than adults. I have a lot of the same interests as them, like goofing around and making everything as fun as possible. Also, I have taken two years of Spanish at Yosemite so that will hopefully help.”
Although this trip is primarily to educate the community on caring for animals and rescuing those in need, Myatt’s time abroad will also include days for “vacationing.” Global Leadership Adventures promises hikes through the jungle, trips to secluded waterfalls, scenic overlooks, remote beaches, surf lessons, horseback riding, paddle boarding, and salsa dancing.
While Myatt is thrilled at the opportunity to see all the wildlife and scenery in Costa Rica, she said the volunteer aspects of the trip are her top priority.
“I want to help make a change in the world ... Global Leadership Adventures is ‘Be the Change,’ and that’s exactly what I want to do,” Myatt declared.
Right up until her July 20 departure, she thought the whole trip was a dream.
“Then my mom came into my room with a ton of sunscreen and it finally hit me,” laughed Myatt.
Such an intensive program abroad feels a bit too-good-to-be-true to the animal-lover, Myatt is certain that her trip will affect the rest of her life.
“I think it’s going to give me a different perspective and teach me how to be grateful for what I have, and how to live a more simple life,” Myatt said. “I want to be able to say ‘Pura Vida,’ which is a common Costa Rican phrase meaning ‘the good life’ or ‘the simple life,’ and mean it. And hopefully, I’ll learn how to cook something other than grilled cheese.”
When Myatt returns, she plans to inspire better animal care locally, in Oakhurst, but her plans don’t stop there. Myatt is already thinking of her career.
“I plan to become a vet and possibly open a rescue center for animals that not many people know need adoption, like reptiles, birds, and large mammals,” Myatt said.
Clearly, the Global Leadership Adventures Scholarship will not be wasted on Myatt. In fact, the jungle seems like the perfect place for her to test her animal skills, given her interest in exotic animals.
“I’ve been considering becoming an exotic animal vet, which could lead me to helping animals in zoos, or anywhere in the world,” Myatt said.
First stop on her “anywhere in the world list” - Costa Rica.