Have you ever heard the saying, “Every tall person needs a short best friend”? Well, in my opinion, I think every short person needs a tall best friend, and for me, that so happens to be Ruth Steele. Besides being helpful for grabbing things high up that I can’t reach, she’s one of the coolest people I know and is a very dear friend.
Ruth is a junior studying civil engineering. She’s a missionary kid born in San Jose, Costa Rica, and lived there until she was 6 before moving to Nashville with her family. “I was young when I lived there, but it is very much like home to me,” she said. “I remember the church community that we had there more than the places. We’d have birthday parties together and times of fellowship eating a lot of food.”
One particular dish that she said made her think of Costa Rica is called casado. She explained that casado is a traditional Costa Rican dish made with portions of rice, beans, a special salad, a side of fries and a type of meat. She particularly likes casado con pescado which uses a whole fish for the meat. Besides it sounding really appetizing, it’s also really fun to say (try saying it five times fast).
A popular phrase that Costa Ricans use with each other is “pura vida” meaning “pure life.” “We use it for greetings and practically everything else. It shows how relaxed and laid-back the culture is,” she said. “Costa Ricans are very chill and family-oriented. We love spending a lot of time with people and our main concern is being present with those we’re with.”
Ruth credits her years living in Costa Rica as a foundation for her years living in Nashville. “At first I didn’t want to call Nashville home. It only seemed temporary, and I kept wondering what the next phase is. Especially the transition from being the main pastor’s kid to being the assistant pastor’s kid, it made me feel smaller, and I had a sense that I didn’t belong,” she explained. “But Nashville is so much more diverse than Costa Rica, and it’s made me appreciate and be open to other cultures a lot more, which probably wouldn’t have happened if I stayed in Costa Rica. It’s made me very open to be whoever I want to be, as cliché as that sounds.”
In terms of her future, this world traveler has a lot of plans ahead. “I’d like to go to grad school and maybe get my doctorate,” she said. “I’d also like to live in another country and work there with my major. It would be great to be able to use my skill-sets somewhere, but I just don’t know where yet.” Her future plans and her life now aligns with her favorite quote, which is “Be the change you want to see in the world.” She’s been a great fountain of wisdom and encouragement to many, and I have no doubt that she’ll make great changes wherever she goes.
What was one transition in your life that helped grow you as a person?
If you ever get the chance to meet Ruth, which I believe everybody should, ask her about her mac ‘n’ cheese story. I’m sure she’d love to tell you all about it 😉