Ricardo Leandro da Costa, 2016

Ricardo Leandro da Costa, 2016

Hi everyone!  I’m Ricardo.  I am from Campinas, a city near Sao Paulo, in Brazil.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Social Sciences. Beside my lawyer activities, my main occupation is actually taking care of my family business related to the real estate market.

I found out about Sprout browsing the internet looking for a different kind of travel.  I wanted to do something more meaningful than simply being a tourist.  That’s when I found a website dedicated to volunteering called WorldPackers.  Through this website, I found out about some places looking for volunteers in the US, and immediately applied to Sprout.

The reason why I decided to come to Sprout was because I was living my life in such a “go with the flow” way that I knew I needed to try doing something completely out of my comfort zone. I wanted to escape from my regular activities for a while, but with an intentional and meaningful purpose. I wanted to help people.  When I read the description for Sprout, it sounded exactly like what I was looking for.

At first, I received an answer from Leadership Staff saying that the current trip schedule had been filled up for the season, but that they would let me know in the future if I was needed.  Two months later, I received an email asking me if I would still be interested in an interview because they were now in need of volunteers for the fall. In a quick, last-minute decision I came to New York to start the training three weeks later.

My first trip was to Catskills, NY. It was not the typical Sprout trip experience because I was not going as an assigned co-leader. It was a slow-pace trip with a big group of elderly participants and all of the other nine leaders would be going. I would be a “floater” leader, helping the others with their groups.

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It was a nice first trip. I had the opportunity to get involved and help out with a lot of participants who had different kinds of limitations.  It was incredibly challenging because these individuals needed a lot of support – in fact, I think it was the most challenging trip of my entire Sprout experience. On the other hand, it was so rewarding to interact with these individuals and see how they changed their behavior once they started to get to know me and rely on me throughout the week.

Over the next few weeks, I had some other really awesome trips to Las Vegas, Catskills again, Orlando, and even some events throughout New York City. Getting to visit so many different places with such amazing people was great. The most memorable Sprout moment I had was a dinner in Las Vegas the night of my birthday.  I remember the participants were all trying to make it as nice as possible for me, and were so concerned that I got my birthday cake. We had a lot of fun, and it was pleasant and touching to have them care so much about me.

Overall, my time at Sprout gave me a different perspective about this population group.  These individuals are smart, they each have their own routines, some of them have jobs, and they have each figured out how to deal with their own limitations.  It was so wonderful to form relationships with them and hear them asking me if I would be back again next year.  Getting to know these individuals and learning about them can change you as a human being, especially in regards to how you cope with your own problems.

Celebrating Ricardo’s birthday night in Las Vegas!

Considering all of these good things, and also the great Sprout staff and awesome co-leaders from all over the world that you have the opportunity to become friends with, I can definitely say I would love to come back to Sprout someday. If someone asked me what it was like being a Sprout leader, all I would say are good things.  The feeling I had when I left was that I had received much more than I gave.

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