Truth or Dare: A Challenge by Choice

Marcos cuts a piece of sugar cane off for daring participant Danny.

Have you ever tried a food you’ve never had before or have you ever raced against a friend to see who was the fastest? Have you ever talked to a stranger or asked a random question in class? Have you have felt a bit of nervousness going into something and decided to do it anyway?

If so, then you have been challenged whether it was by yourself or by someone else. Whether or not you have chosen to partake in it and complete it was your choice and these choices are a part of who you are.

Truth or Dare

When I think of a challenge, I think of the popular adolescent game Truth or Dare. Have you ever played this game as a child or even now as a studious mature college student? I’m sure you have or if you have not, after reading this blog or even sometime during your day tomorrow may be the perfect time to give it a try!

Truth or Dare is a game that has existed for centuries in which a player is asked “Truth or Dare?” and if the player chooses truth, they must answer any question asked truthfully but if the player chooses dare, they must complete the dare as dangerous as it may be. In a way, each player is challenged to step outside their comfort zone, to do things they may have never done before, or to reveal insights about themselves that they may not have ever imagined.

This past spring break was all the more a challenging, but nevertheless a rewarding, exciting, and enriching experience filled with endless understated Truths and Dares. It was a ten day, adventurous and exciting experience full of challenges in which we had the choice to take each truth, run with each knowledge learned, and somehow integrate it in our daily lives or the choice to overcome each dare, do things you’ve never done before, and to add a check mark to things on our bucket list that we did not know even existed.

From the variant in weather, language barriers, and alternative living styles, we had faced challenges each day, but our choice to keep an open mind and to be flexible had tremendous power.  These truths and dares we were faced with each day slowly became second nature and dwindled into habits and behaviors. I no longer thought twice about partaking in a task, inquiring about a method, or trying a new food.

Instead I thought of just doing it; you can do it; or this is a once in a lifetime experience.  

So the game begins!

Our first day in Costa Rica was spent in the city, in which we had enjoyed a delicious lunch of cascadas and pina agua. To many, the idea of food may not seem challenging or daring in any way, but to me, going to a new restaurant I’ve never been before down the street was adventurous and exciting- something new to me, outside my inner circle of comfort. Imagine what trying a new dish that I’ve never had before in a country that I’ve never had visited before had meant to me.  I was faced with the truth that I did not exactly know what I was eating and wanted to know what this delicious rice, beans, and steak dish was, but I was also faced with the dare of trying this dish outside my own and ordering in a language that was not first nor second nature to me. It was a wonderful challenge and I soon learned that this amazing dish would be a staple food plate in the days to follow.

Kabria eating termites from nest.
UCI Costa Rica Program participant, Kabria, picked Dare! She dared to try termites straight from a nest hanging from a nearby tree in the rainforest!

It soon became our second night in Costa Rica, in which we had spent the night in the rainforest of Hacienda Bureau. Hacienda Bureau is a beautiful resort filled with an endless amount of luscious green trees, amazingly unique birds, dangerously harmless insects, and an infinite amount of knowledge and truth. This night in the jungle was definitely one filled with dares and truths in which fears were overcome and inner certainties were rediscovered. Never would I have ever thought I would hold a scorpion in my hand nor listen to the sounds of the rainforest in pitch darkness. In all truth, darkness is one of my fears along with insects, especially such things as scorpions and in all honesty, I was beyond fearful of these challenges. But, with support, encouragement, compassionate, these challenges were soon overcome and a new perspective of fear was found.

These are just a few insights of the endless amount of truths discovered and dares that have been overcome during this ten-day adventure filled journey. If I were to fast forward through each day, pause, and rewind, and relieve every moment, I realize that almost every simple and big activity that we partook in, was a truth and dare in disguise- that simply by waking up at 5 o’clock am was a dare and that learning about where the food we eat each day comes from and how to live a sustainable life are truths to instill within us and apply to our daily lives.

Whether it was venturing through the rain forest on a constant uphill battle or sleeping in the jungle, holding a scorpion or tasting termites from a nest, standing in pitch black embracing the sounds of nature or observing the daily habitats of sloths and monkeys, using a compost toilet or showering outdoors in cold water, or simply trying a pineapple directly taken from the ground or striking up a conversation in a language foreign to your own, our days were filled with unlimited challenges and we had the choice to step outside our comfort zones or to adhere to what we are familiar with. We have the choice to take all the truths that we have discovered and to make a difference, to change our lifestyles for the better, and to live for a better tomorrow.

So, I leave you with a truth and a dare.

Truth: The Costa Rica Program redefines beautiful- it opens your eyes to the beauty of nature, the beauty of culture, and the beauty of hidden potential yet to be found.

A collection of painted pebbles with one reading "Love fully".
Participants dare you to love fully all the things you choose to do with your life – whether it is to be more sustainable, loving of others and appreciative of their cultures, or simply loving each day!

Dare: I dare you to try something new, to see things in a different perspective, and to immerse yourself outside of your own comfort zone. I dare you to redefine your definition of beautiful.

Challenge yourself. Do things outside of your comfort zone. See things you’ve never seen before. Indulge yourself in activities you’ve never thought you would do. See the world through a different lens. Just do it. The choice is yours.


Ronalie Baldovino.