Alex Donahue, Hingham MA
Here, Alex shares the letter she sent to her donors after her return to donate a school to a village in Guatemala.
A while ago you opened not only your wallets but also your hearts to a wonderful cause and, for that, I cannot thank you enough. A few weeks ago I got back from my trip to Guatemala and, upon reflection, I have decided that it has tied with a few other blessed weeks for the best week of my life. Though this seems a bit extreme, I urge to read on and try to understand why this experience affected me in such a positive way.
I went into the trip, nervous, excited, and unsure. Since I travelled with mostly Winchester High School students, I knew no one going, very little about Guatemala, and absolutely nothing about service trips in general. Throughout my (fairly short) life I have realized that the experiences I jump into headfirst with little prior knowledge always turn out to be the best- and this one was no exception.
After two days of tedious travel (I blame the snow) we finally arrived in Guatemala. I think the first thing I noticed about the region in which we were staying was not the poverty but the beauty. Maybe it was just a shock from the grey, snow-covered Massachusetts, but the vibrancy of the color in Guatemala was really something that stuck with me.
From the moment we stepped out of the van into the community we worked in, the trip was a whirlwind of activity. Literally. We were swept into a group of students and their parents, who had come from all corners of the community to welcome us. The hospitality of the people we met was overwhelming. Though I spoke no Spanish and most definitely no Quiche (the regional language), I was able to find unique ways of communicating with the students as the week went on.
Though we were able to impact the community in a longterm way by funding and then painting a school, we were also able to interact with the community in many ways. We played with the children at recess, taught a lesson in the classroom and followed a Guatemalan family around for a few hours.
As you can see, this trip wasn't just about building a school, it was about interacting with a completely different culture, forming new relationships, and making an impact.
As we left the community on the last day, though I was sad, I was comforted by the knowledge that we (because you, too, had part in this school) had funded a school that was going to be visited for the next five years by School the World employees whose mission is to convince people to give their children the gift of education for as long as possible.
Although I could go on about my experiences in Guatemala for way more pages, I will leave you with the knowledge that by donating you gave both me, my fellow travelers, and the students in the community hope for more education, determination to continue spreading and enjoying the gifts of learning, and inspiration to continue onward with the sharing of education.