Third time returning School the World students, Meg Gilman and Olivia Curran, sat down with first time School the World travelers, Nina Maurizi and Kali Bergeron to discuss the impact that the School the World trip has had on them so far and to assess the change in viewpoints from the first time traveling to the third.
Being third time returners on School the World's Student Service Trips, we thought it would be extremely interesting and eye opening to hear the perspectives of Nina and Kali who are first time travelers. It is valuable to hear from students who have been immersed in the program for the first time and see their perspective on how School the World has changed them from one trip. From our interview we were also able to realize just how successful School the World as a program has been in changing the lives and outlooks of Guatemalan communities and students like ourselves from the United States. We realized how students are able to grow into global citizens from continued experience with School the World. With former knowledge that students continue to change with School the World experiences, we interviewed Nina and Kali to relive and look at in depth the first time perspective that starts the foundation for the growth of a student through the School the World program. When doing this, we tried our best to ask Nina and Kali questions about major lessons we have learned or concepts we have become more familiar with through our experiences. The interview went as follows:
Question 1: How has this trip changed your outlook on life? More specifically, how has it shifted your opinions of poverty and our place in the world as U.S. citizens?
Answer 1: (Nina) The whole trip has been a humbling experience, especially the shadowing because it made me realize how fortunate I am and how I take a lot of things for granted that the kids here don't have. Relating to poverty, I expected people living in poverty stricken circumstances to be a lot less positive because of the difficult situations they are truly living in. But, on the contrary, the people here had such a positive outlook on life despite their challenges. I didn't expect to come and see as many giggles and smiles as I have been seeing.
Question 2: If you were to explain this trip to a friend, what would be some of the highlights you would be sure to mention?
Answer 2: (Kali) The highlights of the trip so far for me have been shadowing, the welcoming ceremony, and the soccer game as their is such a welcoming environment and large sense of community between us and the people of Ximbaxuc II.
Question 3: What did you expect the community to be like and was what you expected different from what it truly was?
Answer 3: (Nina) I expected the community to be smaller as the community has many more kids and a much larger school program than I initially thought.
Question 4: What are two of the biggest lessons you have learned through your experiences with School the World?
Answer 4: (Kali) Through my trip I have learned that you can be positive in any situation and I have also learned not to take anything for granted.
Answer 4 cont: (Nina) I learned that the little things are what matter the most and that smiles can be so important as they can often change one's day for the better.
Question 5: H0w has this trip demonstrated you School the World's overall position and importance in the lives of the communities we work in?
Answer 5: (Nina) I have noticed that seeing how excited the kids are shows that it is a big deal for School the World to be here working in the communities. I have learned that School the World makes the impossible possible by giving the students the schools and other materials that they wouldn't otherwise have, so this shows that we are definitely a crucial part of their lives.
Question 6: Is there anything specific that you have learned about yourself as an individual, a student, or a global citizen?
Answer 6: (Kali) Before this trip I was ignorant to other events/problems going on in the world because so many things have come so easily to me living in the United States, and now I realize that these are commodities others around the world don't have.
Question 7: Is there anything you have learned about the people of Guatemala and their lives that you would not have initially expected?
Answer 7: (Nina) The people of Guatemala are much more positive than I expected. No matter the circumstances the people always have a good outlook on life and are continuously grateful for what we do for them.
Question 8: Will your experiences change your perspective towards your life in the United States and your own community? If so, how?
Answer 8: (Kali) My perspective has certainly been changed. In the future, I will definitely think more and take less for granted.
Answer 8 cont: (Nina) I definitely want to come back again and I have learned that even in the times when I want to complain, I need to think about my experiences and realize that there are often much bigger problems than what I am facing.
Question 9: Through this trip, what have you learned about the importance of education in small communities like Ximbaxuc II?
Answer 9: (Kali) I have learned that education is vital as it teaches the students Spanish and expands their learning in ways that wouldn't have before been possible.
Reflecting on our interview with Nina and Kali, their responses emphasized the positive change that comes through School the World's engagement with their high school students. As third time returners listening to the perspectives of first time travelers, we were able to relive our initial experiences and reminisce on our personal development through our work with School the World. We are so happy and honored to have had the opportunity to interview Nina and Kali and we cannot wait to see what they will continue to do in the future. Nina and Kali's words show the immense impact that School the World has on students even after one trip, never mind multiple.