Upon arriving back in Boston, I realized something about Guatemala that will stick with me for the rest of my life.This past April, 26 other Boston area students and I traveled to Santa Cruz del Quiche, Guatemala.
This past April, 27 other Boston area students and I traveled to the town of Santa Cruz del Quiche, Guatemala, and visited the villages of Xeq’ol and Tuluche IV. When we first arrived, we received an immense welcome- it is something that impacted me greatly. The personalities of the people in Guatemala are nothing like that of what we witness in the United States. In Guatemala, they are always radiating with positivity and are grateful for even the smallest of things. Their joyful personalities and wonderful ability to welcome us into their community made me feel at home and encouraged me to realize that there is always something to smile about, and that we, me especially, should not take anything for granted.
While sitting at dinner in Antigua, Guatemala, on the second-to-last night of our unbelievable trip, I looked on the wall to my right, and suddenly discovered a way to put into words everything I was experiencing. Written on a yellow wall and in dark black letters, I read, “Lleva una sonrisa, la misma talla sirve para todos” - Always wear a smile, the same size fits all. This statement perfectly summarized the personalities of the people of Guatemala and was able to demonstrate to me the immense impact that even a smile can make on someone’s day. The happiness these individuals were able to hold was unbelievable to me, given the circumstances and extreme poverty they were living in. To me it doesn’t seem fair that we are born into the lives that we have, when people across the globe are living in conditions worse than ours, yet are more positive than many people in the United States. Our approach towards appreciation of the littlest things in life must change, and we must learn to be grateful for everything, especially our education, as it is something that not everyone is accustomed to.
While I was working in the community of Xeq’ol, myself and all other students working there experienced a life-changing gesture that I am sure will never leave our minds. Juanita, a beautiful young girl living in our community had just celebrated her 10th birthday. Unfortunately, while we were there, we came to discover that she had lost both her parents recently, and was living with her aunts and uncles. She had very limited clothing, but always wore a bright smile across her face. For her birthday, School the World drivers Fredy and Otto purchased a cake and a new outfit for her to wear. This was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen, and to make it even better, the next day as a group, we walked down to Juanita’s house and presented her with the gifts. She was beyond grateful and was truly amazed, and that was wonderful to see. To think that we were able to impact one individual’s life so greatly, is to have succeeded, and this is one memory from my trip with School the World that I will never forget.
There is truthfully no way to describe the experience I had while in Guatemala. I knew that going, and building a school, was going to leave an immense impact on the community and all of the children that will use the school, but I never thought this trip would leave such a great impact on myself as it did. My week spent in Guatemala can easily be described as the best week of my life, and I have School the World and all the people of Guatemala to thank for that. I was beyond touched by the dedication the community had to their education, and their excitement for the opportunities that were to come for their children. I can only hope that the students go on to pursue great things, as I know success is waiting for them. Thank you to Xeq’ol, School the World, and everyone else involved for the trip of a lifetime! I will never forget all of the memories made while in Guatemala, and I will always hold the community of Xeq’ol close to my heart. Can’t wait to be back again soon!