I was able to volunteer at a local clinic there named Primeros Paso. This clinic was basically the main source of medical and dental care for over 15,000 people in the valley that I was staying in, and it was basically this small “building” with a couple rooms and electricity that would go in and out. Some of the volunteering projects that I took part in were helping out with a class that taught the indigenous women about nutrition and how they should be taking care of their children, and going out to some of the schools and teaching the kids there about nutrition as well as just some basic life skills while also bringing some well needed medicine to the children and families. I was able to learn so much from these people, more than they could have ever learned from me. Sure I learned that I should appreciate what I have, but what person goes to a third world country for a month and comes back still not appreciating the fact that they have things like heated showers, or running water for that matter. Something that I feel was more important that I learned on this trip was that you shouldn’t go into service looking at all the bad that has happened and thinking that your going to be able to fix everything for these people, because in reality that doesn’t happen. What really happens is that you see yourself in those people, you see the humanity and the similarities with yourself in another person, and you figure out that you can’t fix all their problems. Thinking about this while on my trip really made me reflect on the Fitz Center, and my involvement with the River Stewards Program, mostly due to our asset based thinking approach to service. Looking at all the good that the communities had was a lot easier than focusing on all of the bad. I felt like I got a lot more out of my “service” trip down there then any of the Guatemalan people got out of it.
My trip to Guatemala was one of the most life changing experience that I have ever had, and I think that it has changed some of my perspectives on life and the way that I view the world. I would not trade the experience that I had or the relationships that I built for anything.