|Part of the 12th Grade from San Cristobal|
The mission trip as a whole was simply amazing to me, for several reasons. I'm still attempting to wrap my head around the entire experience, but I'll try to start explaining why it absolutely blew my mind.
First of all, it was led by the students themselves. They held a vote and elected a Coordinator, an Assistant Coordinator, a Secretary, a Treasurer, Head of Discipline, and several teams such as the Tool Team, the Health Team, and the Nutrients Team. These students and teams were in charge of making sure that everything ran smoothly within their respective areas, and to my amazement, they were extremely efficient, organized, and respectful towards one another and the professors.
I think the reason that I was so impressed was because for 2 weeks, they had to live under very different conditions. To help you imagine it, I'll make a list of things they (including the professors) had to do:
-After work every morning, they had to hand-wash their clothes out in a field
-There were no showers, so the latrines turned into the shower. They filled a bucket with water and bathed with what little water they had
-The bathroom didn't have electricity nor a sink so they needed to bring lanterns and brush their teeth/wash their face in the front of the school from a small water source
-The girls slept in a classroom on cots with 26 girls
-The boys slept in another classroom on cots with 18 boys
-They were only allowed to use their cell phones for 20 minutes each day to call home (that was my personal favorite and naturally most distressing problem for everyone)
-They were able to experience all the different forms and species of insects including scorpions! We saw a few of those in our bedroom - yikes! But mainly mosquitos and more mosquitos, and other bugs that like to visit during the night
Simply put, the living conditions weren't the most luxurious, but as always with mission trips or experiences of this type, it allowed everyone to really understand how privileged and blessed they are, and how easy it is to take for granted what you have. This definitely includes myself! As much as the students saw me as a professor who knew what was going on, I was much more like them in the aspect that everything was completely new to me and I certainly haven't been on that long of a trip like this!
But, before I analyze the whole trip, I'll describe a typical day and include a few pictures!
First of all, every day there is a different kitchen team which is made up of 4 students. This team has to wake up at 4:30 to start making breakfast for the whole camp. Breakfast normally took 2.5 hours to make considering it was for 44 people, and the rest of the group woke up at 6:30 in order to be ready for breakfast at 7.
|Two girls on the kitchen team preparing chicken|
|Half of the girl's room. It was basically like one bed|
|Typical day in the field with a machete - terrifying|
|After a long day of work!|
At risk of writing a novel, I'll try to sum this all up quickly! I still don't really know if I can express how much these two weeks had an impact on my life, and even more so how these students and the community had an impact on my life. Granted that the majority of the students have been going to school together since Kindergarten, I was still amazed at how well they all worked together, respected each other, and got along. At that age, it's very easy to have cliques and different groups, but all of these students were literally best friends. It was pretty amazing! They were so sweet and supportive of one another, and most of them knew exactly who they were and had specific goals for their future. At the end of the two weeks, we had a closing meeting where each student had to talk about how they felt about their experience and suggest improvements or generally make comments about the experience. They all had profound things to say and I can honestly say I could see a dramatic difference in their attitudes and their outlook on their lives after the two weeks.
I'm really glad that every year these students have the opportunity to do something like this. I really think everyone should have to experience something like this in their lives, so I think these kids are really lucky that they had this opportunity and were able to share it together. Here are a few more pictures to close out the blog, and as always, thanks for keeping up!
|The students set up a closing party for the kids of the community|
|Including a piñata!|
|One of the students - Michelle|
|Another student - Andrea|
|Nicole and Mariana|
|The 3 Profesoras|
|The Whole Team!|