Tell us about an intellectual experience, project, class or book that has influenced or inspired you.
I picked Jacquelina up again, twirling her around. I returned her to the ground where she dizzily stumbled, causing her nearby friends to break into fits of giggles. They soon were asking for me to pick them up as well and I obliged, playing with them until the sun fell behind the mountain. This was just one afternoon out of the ten that I spent in Guatemala offering my time, hands, and heart to Las Granadillas, a village perched on top of an isolated mountain.
My team was in Guatemala for one reason - to teach. We taught the village's children, helping them understand math, body parts, and the occasional English word. I gained confidence in my Spanish capabilities, acknowledging that four years of learning from books would not have benefitted me without real world experience. We improved the living standards of the village, renovating the school building, and providing new equipment to the villagers. Our main objective was to teach and help the Guatemalan people, however, the villagers taught and helped us much more.
The ten days I spent in Guatemala opened my eyes to a new world. Guatemala was a country where poverty ran rampant, sanitation was basically nonexistent, and the government was inefficient. I saw firsthand the effects a poorly run government has on its citizens. Schools that were supposedly free were forced to make families pay for their children's education because the government didn't provide them with money to sustain educational programs. Some children in Las Granadillas couldn't attend school, and sat outside of the building, hoping to learn something from the carrying voices of the teachers.
This unfair and unjust world that I was in made me question things: why couldn't the government do its job? Why did its citizens have to suffer? It was because of this firsthand experience that I realized what I was passionate about: I was inspired by the people of Guatemala to learn more about government, so that one day I could work to improve conditions such as those that the Guatemalan people were forced to live in.