Jack Berson, Cabin John, MD
After getting asked by my Spanish teacher if I wanted to travel to Guatemala, there was almost no hesitation is saying yes. However, after fundraising for about a year and a half, I had no idea what to expect when actually getting ready to travel. Once we left the United States and arrived in Guatemala, I realized something- I realized the struggle of poverty around the world was real. In the Guatemalan community where we donated and built a school- when poverty came to life before our eyes, the critical thing we all evaluated about ourselves is whether we take things for granted or take them with gratitude. The individuals and families in the community of Chitucur II held this value of gratitude to an unimaginable level. In this community, it is not about how much people have, but what they do with what they have. In the privileged part of Maryland I live in, I wish people could live with as much appreciation for the things they had, because in these developing countries, it is not whether you will get a new phone or computer, but whether you will get food on your plate that night.
The hospitality and welcome we received on our first day in the community was a day I will never forget. In meeting us for the first time, these families treated us as if we were family. The friendships and bonds that I created with the students are friendships that will last a lifetime. Interacting with the families/students and hearing their stories was one of the most memorable parts of the entire trip. It was amazing to see how these individuals- with so much less than anyone I have ever met in my world- were the happiest people on Earth. The ten of us students from Maryland that went on this trip hope (and plan) to be back next year to further our relationship in the community and build a playground for them. Without this incredible and "once"-in-a-lifetime trip, I wouldn’t be able to gain the experiences and understanding of the lives of others. This was truly the most remarkable week of my entire life, and for that I am thankful.
image by Jack Berson