This past week I’ve been reminded of the generosity of my Belmont community. We’ve been preparing for the study abroad group that’s coming to CEMOC this Saturday. They’re going to tour the facilities; meet our students, volunteer, and spend the night. The staff here at CEMOC has been frantically preparing for this group of 20 gringos the past couple weeks. They’ve been building bunk beds, buying new bedding, and planning cultural exchanges. With all the time and energy they’ve poured into preparing this visit, I was worried that it was becoming a burden. My biggest fear was that CEMOC would lose money because of all the investment they’ve made to accommodate such a large group. When I sent the final hospitality cost to the study abroad group, they let me know that they had already budgeted for these incidentals that CEMOC would incur. I was amazed at their forethought and wisdom.
There’s also a group from the Belmont Enactus team coming to do work with my former project, “Be a Blessing.” The new project manager, faculty advisor, and our partners at Father Ryan High School are visiting the orphanage that makes the Be a Blessing bracelets. Part of their visit to the orphanage is doing a service day. I contacted the nun who runs the girl’s home and she sent me their “wish list” of repairs: painting various classrooms, electrical repairs, and installing lights. When I went to buy the paint in town I realized how expensive this service day was going to end up being, with each bucket of paint costing more than $100. I emailed the Enactus team to verify that the “wishlist” was far outside the service day budget and have them decide the one or two items they still wanted to do. I was absolutely floored when they said no, we want to do it all.
I’ve been wonderfully surprised by my Alma Mater, especially by Belmont’s willingness to serve and make financial investments in the development of my beautiful new home country.
My study abroad experience in Guatemala changed my life. My visit to the “Be a Blessing” orphanage forever changed my heart. I’m antsy for Belmont to get here, and I’m hopeful that Guatemala will impact these new students the way it did me.