Even after three trips, the experience is still so surreal. It is not until I get back to Boston each time that I realize what has just happened, and at that point, the journey is complete. Being in the rural communities of Guatemala, which School The World works in, is an experience I cannot put into words. I think the fact that I returned just three days ago and am already planning my return this winter says enough. The first time I traveled with STW was in April of 2015, and it’s crazy to think that I almost didn’t go. It was a last minute decision that I made because most of my friends were going, and I figured it would be a fun way to get community service hours. Now I am entering my senior year in high school, planning to major in international studies and then join the Peace Corps immediately after college–definitely not something I ever saw myself doing.
I never thought I would be where I am today, but I am so glad that I am. Because of my journeys with STW, I have learned more about myself than I ever knew possible. I have also developed a strong passion and understanding of the lives and cultures of other communities. Seeing how families in other areas of the world go about their daily lives in comparison to my own is incredibly eye-opening, and I am so lucky to be able to have experienced that. It puts everything into perspective, and I have gained a completely new appreciation for the life I am so fortunate to have here in Boston.
Everything that I thought was important in life is now so insignificant to me, and everything I thought I wanted is now lost. Material wealth and socioeconomic status are such trivial aspects of life, yet they are considered the American Dream. The families I have worked with in Guatemala have taught me that it is not the things that you don’t have, but the people and relationships that you do have which bring happiness. The children I have met through my travels have so much more than some of the wealthiest people I know here in America, and this has taught me what’s really important in life.
Words can’t describe the joy I feel when I see how grateful the children are when we simply show up and bring gifts as small as bubbles or jump ropes. Three trips later, the emotions are still the same and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. By changing the lives of others, STW has changed my life too, and I am more than thankful for that. I am looking forward to a life full of adventures in Guatemala, as well as other areas of the world. The relationships and memories I have made are more than I could have ever asked for, and that is all thanks to School The World.