Meet Valentino K.: PART ONE – My Hawaiian Experience

My Hawaiian Experience

Photo taken by Valentino K. before swim practice in Maui, HI.

As a young boy, I always wanted to voyage around the world. At times I contemplated what the experience might be like. In 2014, it was the year of opportunity for me. I was able to experience things that seemed impossible not only for me, but for others in my situation as a foster child. One noteworthy thing I experienced was being able to go on an expedition with my phenomenal swim team, Miami Swimming, to the awe inspiring state of Hawaii. We went there with a purpose and achieved what we anticipated.

Before the trip began, I was extremely nervous. The other swimmers were already cognizant of airport screenings, but I had never been on a plane before. I had to go along with what everyone else was doing, and try my best to not look like I didn’t know what I was doing.  I didn’t ask anyone for assistance whatsoever, keeping my beginner experiences clandestine. Luckily, everything went smoothly for me, and then we gradually made it onto the airplane. When I stepped on the plane, my adrenaline skyrocketed, but I still didn’t show it. It was very hard for me to travel for the first time on an airplane, but I ultimately overcame that barrier. It was awesome to see other parts of the country and I will forever recollect those places with pleasure.

Once we arrived in Hawaii, everybody was woken up by the flight attendants and we immediately looked outside at the gorgeous view. I was speechless and astonished by the view. We landed and then drove to our hotel. Throughout that excursion, I observed literally everything. I have never seen mountains, actual surfers, and gorgeous beaches such as the ones Hawaii has. From my observation, I knew that I was in paradise! Throughout the duration of the trip, we experienced some amazing things, as well as rigorous physical training. We ran and swam twice a day. We even had a beach practice which felt like a triathlon with the exception of bicycles. We essentially trained like Olympians. Even though I barely completed some exercises, I triumphantly made it through. I also lost copious amounts of weight which was one of the things I intended to do. I must say, the training was very demanding, but with motivation and self-perseverance, it was feasible.

I enjoyed many things while in Hawaii. I swam with indigenous fish and sea turtles and this actually rejuvenated my love for them and eradicated my fear of them. Words can’t explain this wonderful experience. The thing I relished the most was the Luau, which is a Hawaiian party/feast with entertainment. I loved how everybody on the trip came together as one big happy family. What made the night even better was to watch the sky change into a pinkish color with highlights of orange. The sun gradually retired as the lovely moon took its place. It was absolutely breathtaking.

As the terminus of the trip approached, I didn’t want to leave, but hopefully I will have this opportunity next year. It was sad to see everyone depart, but we are still family regardless of where we are. Each day, I reminisce about those moments.  The trip had a significant effect on me and I’m extremely thankful that I was selected for this opportunity. All in all, even though the training was exhausting, overall the trip itself was a spectacular experience.

Follow Valentino this summer as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery -where he takes his first trip out of Miami, volunteers overseas doing mission work and interns with a prominent Miami-Dade County Judge!