As a sophomore in High School and craving adventure, I stumbled across a Facebook post about Youthlinc and the opportunity to serve abroad. I had always dreamed of participating in a humanitarian trip, but never felt like it was something “I could do”. But I decided to shoot my shot and convince my parents to let me go. Here’s the kicker, I only had 3 days to convince them and to apply. At this time, I was the owner and operator of a small snow-cone shack that I solely managed during the summer season. So, the first thing my parents said was, “what about the shack?”. At that moment I had to decide whether I wanted to keep my business, or go abroad on a humanitarian trip. By the end of the week, my shack was up for sale and I was registered for my first trip with Youthlinc. 

In summer of 2015 I traveled to Santa Isabel Peru. I remember our first day in the village, I was tasked with teaching a lesson completely in Spanish, not knowing any of the language. Feeling very timid and scared, I jumped into the experience and tried my best. That day I taught a lesson on Penguins. Each student at the camp put together cut-out paper penguins while learning body, feet, eyes, stomach and mouth in English. At the end of the lesson, we danced around like penguins for a solid 5 minutes. From that moment on, every student and member of the village knew me by my newly given nickname, “Panguino”. That summer I learned to open my heart to someone other than myself, and truly learn from another culture. Those two weeks are some of the most defining moments of my life. I never knew those two weeks would completely shape my entire future. 

In a journal entry on my trip home, I wrote the following poem: 

It’s as if you finally find the one that always makes you have fun.

You laugh till you cry, as you pretend you can fly.

Although they may have little, their life is anything but brittle.

They are the definition of happy, although the world might say its “crappy”.

There was that one little kid, who kinda hid.

Among the shadows, but with a heart greatly un-shallow.

He had that smile, that stretched an entire mile.

He lit up your day, In some mysterious way.

Although you couldn’t understand, But the motion of the hand, 

There was still love, From a child looking like a magnificent dove.

It was all fun, But when it was said and done, 

I couldn’t help it and started to cry, As I said my last goodbye.

As I climbed back onto the boat, Not staying afloat,

Tears ran down my face, And I did not want to leave that place.

The world continues, And all that’s on my mind,

Life’s all about the beautiful hellos and terrible goodbyes.

My trip to Peru was more than two weeks abroad. It was the first time in my life where I felt as though I could be my authentic self. That’s the amazing thing about Youthlinc; it takes all of these strangers and puts them through a service year where they learn to open up and look at the world from a different perspective. Slowly, each humanitarian’s talents begin to come out. Then we get to a country where every talent and special ability is put on display. You learn to connect and open up until you barely recognize the person you’ve become. 

Being a part of Youthlinc is something I will always treasure. After my first trip to Peru in 2015, I returned to the same village in 2016 as an Alum Leader and then served as the Assistant Team Leader for Kenya in 2017. I was projected to serve in 2021 but Covid prevented that from happening. In 2023 I rejoined the Youthlinc Family as a Team Leader to Fiji and now serve in that same role for the Ecuador Southern Utah Team. I have loved every trip I have been on, as each has taught me something a little bit different. That’s the thing about Youthlinc, you go on one trip and before you know it, you are addicted and just can’t stop. 

Youthlinc Gives Space to be Your Authentic Self – Easton Bowring
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