This has been the most exhausting week of my life, however the most amazing. I will start off by saying how thankful I am to have experienced this with 12 of Springfield College’s most incredible humans as well as those we met along the way. Especially after yesterday’s endeavors, it’s challenging for me to put this week into words; I’ve been staring at this document for quite some time now, thoughts and emotions flooding through my brain, too worthy for the English language to describe. This week we learned that Guatemala is the 3rd happiest country in the world – this became reality to us all in the San Miguel Dueñas community yesterday. Our mission was to clean up trash throughout the community and hand out vegetables to the families. Their mission, was, to help us. Children whom I connected on a deeper level with right away were eager to travel around the community with us, hold our bags and deliver the vegetables. After every house, the little girl who would not let go of my hand would look up at me and say, “¿Puedamos jugar ahora?” (Can we play now?) Once the vegetables were finally distributed, she took me back to her house where all of her siblings and her parents were. We played a game of soccer out in the street, they helped me with my Spanish along the way. What I noticed most about this family was how happy they were. I had seen their house; it was nothing a picture could do justice. The way they live is a complete 180 from the way most of us are fortunate enough to live in America. Despite it all, I never saw a smile leave their faces. The parents and I communicated as well as we could, they were interested about me and why I was there. They sat down to watch the game of soccer, mesmerized by their children having so much fun. The kids were in heaven, and I had never been so touched by a child ever in my life thus far. It’s indescribable, their body language and emotions that they put into spending time with me yesterday. I will never forget their faces and the time we shared together. I only hope that I am fortunate enough to return to this community to visit them, to help them. This entire week has been life-changing, from the connections we built, the things that we saw, the people we met, and the lives that we changed. I am so grateful for this experience and I’m proud to say that I’m hungry for more – to give a hand, to hug, to help. “Do what you can with what you have and where you are.”
Indescribably amazing. That is how I feel about the experiences I have had during my time in Guatemala. Yesterday could not have been a better day to finish up our service. We started off our final day back at the same house that we laid cement inon Wednesday, except yesterday it went even more smoothly. We knew exactly what to do and became a well-oiled machine in the matter of minutes. We worked so effectively that the concrete was done in no time at all. Knowing that we were able to increase the quality of this family’s home in two areas was so rewarding and being able to see what we finished on Wednesday left us all with an even greater feeling. To see how helpful the family was to get the cement finished by already disassembling their home and carrying gallons of water up was so moving. It truly demonstrated how the power of helping others is shown through both compassion and teamwork. Oddly enough, after another long strenuous day, I felt refreshed and even more motivated. We left the family’s home seeing nothing but smiles and feeling love and happiness fill the air. We then went to La Corazon de Los Niños where children from Santa Maria de Jesus school prepared an exhibition for us to demonstrate their culture. They performed a beautiful routine and their families were there selling many unique hand-made items. We then broke out into a dance party, or should I say fiesta. A beautiful girl named Rose immediately grabbed my hand to dance with me. We twirled, laughed, and mimicked each other’s dance moves. When it was time for us to leave, it was so hard to say our final goodbyes to the children. We stood there hugging each other for at least five minutes. Tears filled my eyes as she asked when we would return. I told her I would see her soon. In that moment I realized why I am on this trip.
I have made so many indescribable connections with people who I have met and with the people I have traveled here with. I am beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to complete this week with some of the most intelligent, kind-hearted, and hardworking individuals. It would not have been the same without any of them. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has loved and supported me as well as for every experience that has shaped me into the woman I am today, especially those experiences I have gained this past week. Although I wish I could stay here forever, I know I will return one day. As I prepare to hop on an airplane and wave goodbye to the beautiful place I have been able to call my temporary home, I will wave goodbye with a smile. I will never forget the amazing people I have met, the indescribable experiences, and the life changing lessons I have gained.
“The best way to find yourself is to lost yourself in service to others.” Mahatma Gandhi