WOW. As this trip comes to an end, I’m left with so many thoughts. I’ll try to outline them for you below, and even though it might be a bit choppy, it’s the best I can do.
Service – Working in the Villa 31 was amazing. I learned so much, and was able to make meaningful contributions working with Detrás de Todos. Working with children not only taught me to have more patience and grace, but it also showed me how much potential lies within each child. Many of the highlights of the trip came from seeing a child finally succeed after many attempts and failures. Life in the villa is intriguing, and walking through the muddied streets each day was a thought-provoking experience that had me thinking a lot about life and happenstance. Interacting with children, parents, grandparents, store owners, volunteers, and animals in the villa taught me a lot, and there is a good mix of beautiful and ugly aspects of life there. There was a lot of stuff that was challenging to see, and realizing the obstacles many of these children and families face was a sobering experience. One of the experiences I remember the most was speaking with a child who was bullied because he couldn’t read, and even his family had told him he would never be able to. I was able to talk to him for about 30 minutes one day and encourage him, and seeing his change in perspective was an incredible experience. Sometimes it’s the everyday interactions and encouragements that impact us the most.
Traveling to and from the villa each day (almost an hour commute between train and subway) forced me to learn public transportation and get around in the city by my own. Now I wish Nashville had some public transport!
I also got to do service in a villa in southern Buenos Aires with the church I was a part of. It was a different type of service that allowed me to bond a little bit more with children who were older than the lower-schoolers from Villa 31. We did more activities such as playing soccer and it was great building relationships with the kids and learning how growing up in the villa has shaped them.
People – The people and culture of Argentina continue to impact me. The hospitality is incredible, and like last time (in 2012) I was treated with kindness by almost everyone I interacted with. Spending time with my Argentine family led to many thought-provoking conversations and gave me opportunities to see things from a fresh perspective. I will certainly miss the warm greetings and customs that the Argentines do so well.
Mindset – More than anything, this trip to Argentina has made me realize just how young I am. It has inspired me to take advantage of my youth and has shown me just how little there is separating me from what would otherwise be considered “crazy” ambitions. I am eager to maintain this mindset going back to Nashville, and am now considering studying internationally after my graduation from Belmont.
I am incredibly grateful to Lumos for the opportunity to serve in Argentina this summer. My experiences are worth more than can be expressed in this blog and I definitely know that this trip has impacted my future in a big way. It has changed my outlook on life and I can’t wait to go on more trips in the future that will teach me more about the world and help me leave my mark on it. Thank you Lumos! It’s been the experience of a lifetime.