I’ve been in Guatemala for almost one year now. When I reflect on all that’s taken place, I am amazed at the changes I’ve experienced in my personal life.
One year ago, I could barely introduce myself in Spanish.
One year ago, I never wanted to be a school teacher.
One year ago, I wanted Middle School to be only a distant memory.
One year ago, I had no true Guatemalan friends.
One year ago, I had no idea what 2014 had in store.
Now, in August of 2014, I speak far more Spanish than English on the average day. I stand in front of a classroom of awkward middle schoolers and teach them my native language through my newly adopted one. I spend my days with amazing co-workers and friends “cultivating young people” and developing small businesses.
And you know what? I love it.
As part of my job at CEMOC, I accompany the students in the school bus every morning and afternoon. One aspect of that is that I get to see them outside the classroom environment. I get to see them waiting at the bus stops with their parents, talking with friends, and being vulnerable in front of their peers. Coincidentally, some our biggest troublemakers at school are on my bus route. And I get to see them be just a little bit vulnerable as well. The popular, “tough guy” routine is tough to keep up 100% of the time as a middle schooler, you know.
Two Fridays ago, my most “troublesome” student sat next to me on the bus route. During the 45 minutes we spent bouncing up and down on the dirt roads together, I realized that he’s just a kid. And beyond that, I realized that I love him. I realized that I genuinely love every single student on my bus. I know their interests, their dreams, their fears... And I love them.
2014 has been a crazy adventure, but it’s still not over yet. Thanks to the Lumos grant, I know that Chimaltenango, Guatemala is exactly where I need to be. It’s where I’ve found my passion and my service. I won’t be leaving for good anytime soon.