Written by: Beaujena Stoyancheva, Winchester High School
This past February break was my second Guatemalan service trip with School the World. Over the course of that week, in addition to my time spent one year prior, I learned more about the world–and myself– than I ever could have imagined.
To me, education means an opportunity to open your mind and learn about new things, places, and ideas that you have never encountered before. It provides a necessary foundation for growth and success in the world, but most of all education is necessary for understanding the world, and all of the different people that live on it. Education is not just sitting in classrooms and taking notes, it is interactive. We learn each and everyday, whether in school or not. we learn from our surroundings, the people we meet, the music we listen to, the environment we are in, and so on. Not only does this trip provide us, the World Changers, an opportunity to physically bring education to kids who do not have access to it, it gives us the chance to also learn about and experience a whole new way of life.
The experience I had last year in the community of Trinidad had a massive impact on me, and truly affected how I carried out my daily life. Every time I was feeling down or unmotivated, I reminded myself of the little boys and girls up in Trinidad, whose faces lit up when you gave them just a little bottle of bubbles. For this, I was ridiculously excited to return. Leading up to our departure, my dad sent me off with one piece of advice; he told me to try and notice/ learn something new this year. “Open your eyes and try to discover something you haven’t yet seen before,” he said. So that’s what I did…
When we finally landed in Guatemala City, I think my heart nearly burst with joy. I was so happy to be back in the country that I had fallen in love with one year prior and to be able to see my old friends in Trinidad., but most of all, I was excited to see and spend the week in a new community. Capuchinas was in the same area as Trinidad and I could actually see Trinidad from where we worked in Capuchinas. However, despite their close proximity, throughout the week I realized that there were a lot of differences between the two. It is so interesting to see a different community, as each community is unique in its own beautiful way. This is why, although it is the same country, being a World Changer returner always comes with a new unique experience and endless learning.
One thing that stood out to me during my week in Capuchinas was the energy within the community. From the first moment we stepped out of the vans, we were greeted with such a kind, warm, and welcoming energy. The people of Capuchinas always made us feel so welcome, and their excitement for the school was incredible. Seeing their enthusiasm every day was utterly inspiring. My week in Capuchinas was filled with joy, and I know I’ve created lifelong memories and friends.
One of the most surprising aspects of both of my trips was realizing how much I have learned from the kids in the communities. I think a lot of us believe, upon our first impressions of this trip, that we will simply go in, build a school, and go home. We come in to bring a chance for education and quality schooling to these kids, but I never expected to learn so much while in the community. Without even knowing it, the kids in Capuchinas and Trinidad taught me compassion, humbleness, and to just enjoy life for what it is. Seeing how genuinely joyful and easy-going these kids are is really striking. Despite their situation, despite how little they have, they make the best of it. They teach me to be grateful for all of the opportunity I have back home, and I carry that with me wherever I go.