Written by: Tatiana Agostino, Needham High School
I have always wanted to change the world in my own way, I just never anticipated that making a difference would be so much fun. This year, I spent my February school vacation with School the World, forever changing the lives of Guatemalan children. The way in which these kids who have nothing, opened their hearts to us over the course of our week long visit was truly remarkable, and the pure bliss they displayed was bittersweet.
I will never forget how I felt on the first day in the community. There were kids of all ages waving balloons around frantically above their heads with ear-to-ear grins spread across their faces in an effort to welcome us to their community. They were standing in two columns with an aisle covered with straw-like grass and rose petals between them. It was walking down hand in hand with a young Guatemalan boy that made me realize I was in the right place doing what I needed to be doing.
As the week progressed, we worked hard painting, mixing cement, digging and cleaning what in the end turned out to be an incredible school. In return for our hard work, we were rewarded with an hour recess with the children each morning. It was during this time each day that I found myself wishing I could stay that happy forever. As I watched the kids blow bubbles, play soccer, climb trees, have jump rope competitions and play hopscotch, I truly began to appreciate how simple life can be. The joy achieved from the smallest things in life is truly remarkable and I fell in love with the community of Capuchinas.
I went into this trip not knowing what to expect, and I returned home ready to start fundraising for next year. This experience has been one I will never forget and that I hope every teenager gets to experience. Coming from an affluent town like Needham, teenagers are so used to things coming easily to them. Being immersed in such a different culture is both important and eye opening to those who are shielded from other parts of the world. As I continue to journey through life, I fully intend to stay involved in service projects, most especially those which help to provide quality education. I would love to continue traveling to developing countries to help make them safer places to live, and to provide opportunities to those who seek them. This trip has truly been a surreal experience and I thank Natalie, Ali and all the staff members with School the World who made this trip so unforgettable.