Remi Smith is a junior at Lauralton Hall from Fairfield, CT. She has fundraised and contributed to two schools in Guatemala and traveled with STW twice. She shares experiences from both her first and recent trips.
An excerpt from Remi's 2013 travel journal:
Final day, 2/23/13: The whole trip was an amazing experience. We not only impacted the community but it made a huge impact on me. We didn’t just paint a school; we are part of a much bigger picture. Also, I was not expecting to get so close to everyone in the community. If the kids were not there while we were working on the school it would have been a totally different experience. We are complaining about our large workload once we return to school but these kids love to learn and are so grateful to be getting an education. I feel that when I go back I will be much more grateful for everything I have and want to do more to help others. I definitely want to go again next year. I am going to tell my friends and family about this experience and I know that I will never forget it.
Excerpts from Remi's 2014 travel journal:
Fourth day, 2/18/14: Today our group leader told us that the kids leave school before lunch to go home to do chores. The girls clean and work in the house and the boys work on the farm. It surprised me that these kids started working when they were so young and just how different my life is from theirs. We also spoke about how it is hard for them to get a job and travel. This is why it is so important to give these children an education and opportunities. It is important for them to be able to be confident in themselves and shape their own futures. Most kids in Guatemala stop going to school after 5th grade and spend their whole lives in the community they were born in. They are so grateful and I am so happy that I can be a part of giving them the gift of education.
Fifth day, 2/19/14: After the kids said goodbye and
went home, over ten of them came back to help us work on the school. I think it is amazing that they really want this school and an education and are so eager to contribute. It was wonderful that girls were helping us work as well. The girls do not usually do that type of work so I thought it was great to see them doing the same work as males. I did not realize what an impact our presence had on the girl’s confidence levels and view of gender.
Remi's reflections on the past two years:
Our 2014 group also went back to the school that we built in 2013. On the way there we passed the recent school we were working and all of the kids ran up to the van and hugged us. Once we arrived at Cacabal II (2013 village) it was wonderful to see the kids again and see the school with posters, tables, and decorations on the wall. They did dances for us and then we danced with them and played some games. I find it so incredible that they care so much about their school and us. It was also reassuring to see new kids at the school.