July 25, 2012
I had an amazing 2012 year with Youthlinc. Youthlinc provided me the opportunity of a life-time to do service in my local community and in Guatemala. Our local service had to be an interactive one--as in, one involving other people and communicating--in this case, to prepare us for our international service. I did my local service with Arts-Kids, a youth development program that helps kids with problem solving, communication, and socializing through art. I had a great time getting to know the kids through activities like the opening and closing circle and of course art! Before going to Guatemala we had to earn it, we had to complete a total of 60 hours of community service then raise about $1,400. The expense wasn't much thanks to our wonderful sponsers, and with help of family and friends raising the money was easy. It took a lot of preparation before we left on our life-changing experience. We raised money for school supplies, art supplies, and sports/games to bring. We also gathered glasses to bring for our eye testing. Each of the students going to Guatemala put forth 110% whether it be fundraising, or making a lesson plan. Before we left each student had to create a lesson they were going to teach to the students of Ak' Tenamit (the school we were going to in Guatemala.) The lessons varied from English to Art to Soap Making, and came with photos, posters, and even maps to show the students. After months of preparation our team of 40 students, alum leaders, and committee leaders were off to Guatemala. Once arrive the experience became very surreal. It exceeded my expectations. We were working 24/7 (for the two weeks we were there) and it feel good after the long wait. Faced with this new experience and cultural exchange the team did well, no complaints and just smiling faces. Knowing we were helping took away from all the scary bugs, smells, and humidity. At the school we did three main projects: we built a path, varnished and sanded an up and coming computer lab, and painted 5 of the girls dorms a bright orange. When first arriving we had an opening ceremony to share some of our culture with theirs, and they did the same. We got to teach our lessons to 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th graders, and also did an agricultural project with the students. We mingled with the students by playing a soccer match (where we lost epically), having a dance, painting nails, and playing other various games. One day we hiked up to a remote village and assembled and gave 32 families water filters--it was one of my favorite experiences. It's so hard to say all that we did in such a short time frame, but I will tell you that you don't want to pass this experience by. In the end of my two week all the sweat and hard work felt euphoric, just such a great relief and joy--so many emotions at once. We were sad to leave our new friends and the beautiful country of Guatemala, but we it will never leave our hearts (as cheesy as that sounds)! Two weeks was enough to change my perspective, I am so open-minded and strive to do more. As a human being I am changed forever and for the better. I will always be grateful of this wonderful experience!
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