This was one of the best trips I have ever been on. I got to have fun as well as experience several things that will change my life forever. On this trip, we planted trees, went hiking, stayed with host families, and explored shantytowns as well as the “Uptown or Northside” aspects of Paraguay which consist of museums, big malls, big stores and streets with lots of lights. We fell in mud holes, but lastly, and most importantly, we made huge impacts on people’s lives (in their homes and their businesses).
Before coming to Paraguay I had a certain mindset that was made by the people around me. My friends and family were telling me to be careful with the people in Paraguay and to watch my bags so people wouldn’t snatch them (the basic awareness of my surroundings), but the perspectives my friends and family had on Paraguay were definitely wrong. If you actually spend time in Paraguay and get to know Paraguayan culture and communities, you will see that people are loving, caring, and shows selfless characteristics under many different circumstances.
During our last week, my group spent time decorating a pre-school. It might sound simple, but I assure you it isn’t. Hard work, time, patience and a little grit were definitely needed to make the project successful. In 5 days we put together something so beautiful that now gives the kids an open space to play, relax, and enjoy their school in more ways than just through academic learning.
We also participated with a group called Partidi which used fútbol (or soccer, as we call it in the United States) to interact with kids and develop their social and emotional health.
My group recently had a debate about whether or not Washington, DC has the same connections, programs, or genuineness as Paraguay. Here’s my opinion. What causes you to say Washington, DC doesn’t have what Paraguay has? I feel compassion from a lot of people with whom I interact, whether it’s at school, in my community, or just with strangers. My school and community have a ton of programs that children can participate in and, I can’t speak for anyone else, but my family definitely has a good culture. People tend to assume and judge everything just by one glance. But if you haven’t opened up your thoughts, your heart, and your mind to new people as well as new things, you will never fully experience the opportunities, whether far (like in Paraguay) or near (in the DMV) given to you.
I’m guessing you thought that was the end of my blog, right!? But I still have so much to say so continue with me.
One thing I learned on this trip is that background doesn’t make you, life does. Creating your own path in life makes you unique. When the time comes for you to make a decision about what you want to do with your life, you’re going to have so many thoughts going through your mind. Often your opinions and perceptions about things are based on something you may have seen on TV or read in a book or heard from a loved one, and you’ll decide not to do something because of a negative thought. But don’t let those ideas hold you back. Try that something new! And then try more things! And don’t stop. You may have read my blog to try something new, and I’ll just say it feels amazing because as I’m in the middle of typing it I feel amazing, so you should too!
I’m just about done so bear with me for a little longer. I’m sitting on the plane and to the right of me is Grace and to the left is a complete stranger. I am sitting here and thinking about this circumstance, and I decide to make a new friend and start a conversation with the stranger. But it’s not just any old conversation… it’s a conversation in Spanish! And just a heads up… I don’t know Spanish. But I made it work and, to my surprise, she knew English. It all worked out great. It’s kinda weird though because we didn’t really talk about us. We ended at watching the exact same movie at the exact same time so we were laughing and spoiling the movie for each other. Life has a funny way of showing you things, and I’m glad about that. I can’t wait for the plane to land so that I can share all of these things with you guys, as well as my family and friends. Thank you for listening (and reading) and I hope you enjoyed my post.
Andrenae B., Ballou High School