My name is Gracie Wong, I am 18 years old, an Earth Systems Science Major, and from Diamond Bar, CA. My passion for sustainability developed in high school when I took a class in Environmental Science and worked in a small group to design an outreach project. The project got other students involved by having them recycle their paper lunch trays to promote consciousness in the everyday lives of students. From that experience I was motivated to jump right into the opportunities UCI can provide for me as the #1 Coolest School in the Nation. Over the summer, I was lucky enough to travel to three countries: Taiwan, Singapore, and my home-country of Malaysia. My travels exposed me to intricate and diverse cultures that fascinated me and fueled my curiosity for the global world. I decided to participate in the Costa Rica Program because it encompasses everything I am passionate and interested in. It allows me to step out of my comfort zone to develop my strengths and overcome my weaknesses along with learning more about my personality. I am able to travel and experience a new culture, not just through tourism, but also through immersion and research with a great team of people. I hope to bring back what I learn to friends, family, and UCI in order to work towards making a sustainable change in the community. I am looking forward to disconnecting from the busy life of a student while I am at Costa Rica and exploring how the values of Costa Ricans affect their daily lives and how they interact with the natural world. As a lover of nature, I am also excited for the breathtaking scenery and hikes as well as the Pura Vida lifestyle!