“The best journeys answer questions, that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.”
-Jeff Johnson, 180° South
Tomorrow we leave for El Salvador. We have spent the past five weeks in Guatemala—learning about its culture, meeting with its people, and living their lives as authentically as we possibly could. The history of Guatemala is recent and colorful, but the people of Guatemala are healing. They are welcoming, they smile, and they are kind. The hope that the people of Guatemala have is, for me, surprising, but certainly beautiful. As the CGE Guatemala Director, Fidel, said this morning at breakfast, the people of Guatemala look at themselves as trees. While a tree’s flowers and branches and trunk can be cut and marred, the roots cannot be removed. The roots for the people of Guatemala, symbolize their hope for life to improve. This entire experience has been beautiful. Earlier today, my group and I had a short debriefing with our program facilitator, Joe. A few had mentioned how they don’t even know how to begin to retell their experiences upon returning home. I feel the same way. While I know my parents and family friends have had many similar experiences, to convey this experience is something that I don’t think I will fully be able to do. I also think that is something that comes with traveling, though. Traveling is a lived education. What you experience, what you see, who you meet—all of those things have an emotional and psychological effect on your own being. To convey a travel experience can only go so far.
Either way, in one superlative, my experience in Guatemala has been amazingly beautiful. This study abroad program has done a phenomenal job of teaching us of the pertinent social issues that exist, connecting us with the people of Guatemala, and allowing us to grow as people and experience this country in a very organic way. As the quote at the top of this blog post states, many questions that have been answered, are questions that I hadn’t even thought to ask when I flew out of Albany, NY at 6:20 AM on 20 August. Not only the growth of knowledge, but the amount of introspection that this experience has provoked thus far has, many a time, caused me to contemplate who I am as a human being.
It is hard to believe that these five weeks have flown by so quickly. Tomorrow we will begin our second leg of this program. El Salvador. Four weeks. Liberation Theologies. One house. Living, eating, sleeping, and studying together.
Peace and love.