Last Updated: October 12th, 2012By

My name is RuthAnne Owens and I was selected to go on a CULP mission to Costa Rica the summer following my sophomore year at the University of Central Missouri.

I am currently working for my nursing degree while in ROTC, with hopes of commissioning to become an Army nurse officer. This Cultural Understanding Language and Proficiency program broadened my mind as a future officer in the Army.

A lot was said (in training) about diplomacy and how to interact with foreign governments. While in Costa Rica, we really dissected how the things we did would affect what the locals, and the Costa Rican government, thought about the United States.

My team worked at an elementary school in Guatusa village for two weeks, and a community center in Cartago for one week. There was one afternoon, however, where we took some orphan kids to the park. These kids stole our hearts. They all had similar stories: some kids left at the door of the orphanage, some kids with cigar burns on their body, some kids unable to use their legs because their parents abused them so badly. It is not uncommon to hear stories like these, but this time I had a face, a name, and a life, that no one thought mattered.

Forty-five kids all living in a small house, with bars to prevent them from escaping. Once a week they were allowed out, only if there were enough volunteers to watch them. We were their ticket out for that one afternoon.

True, there are plenty of countries that need better plumbing systems, education systems, sewage systems, and political systems. But if the people are not taken care of then the purposes of those systems are defeated. I am proud to work for an Army that cares about the welfare of, not only our own people, but the people of other countries.