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It is often said that “to give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. But teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.” Although I thought I knew the meaning of this quote because of my so-called “analytical knowledge” from AP Literature, I never knew I would experience the meaning for myself.

After waking everyone up at the early hours of the morning (aka 6am), we went to breakfast and began our day. Despite the fact that we were in the hostel for the majority of the morning, we still learned a lot about the concepts of international aid along with the benefits and loopholes that come with hastily donating to developing countries. From the activities and ideas everybody had, our overall perspective and knowledge about aid was revised. We also introduced the Community Action Project (CAP), a project our group does in an effort to bring upon sustainable change to a local organization. After our free time and a couple of deep talks with friends and then lunch and a deep talk with Joel and Victoria, we headed out to Barrilete, an orphanage we planned to partner with for our CAP.

I never expected to feel the way I did. As brutally honest as it sounds, I expected for our visit to Barrilete to be mostly informational and just us asking questions and receiving answers. I expected our visit to be us taking notes in our journals and seeing the ‘worn down’ conditions, a definition that was still hazy in my mind. I expected our visit to be full of groans complaining of the heat, blistered feet from our dress shoes, and savage mosquitos. One thing I definitely learned from this experience was to never jump to conclusions. Our visit to the orphanage was filled with laughter and sympathetic smiles. Our visit was  filled with us frantically taking notes in our journals in an effort to better the worn down conditions, a definition that became clear as coffee (a local ironic expression) as an environment which inhibits opportunity, complete security, and privilege. And lastly, our visit was full of tears of overwhelming emotion, sore faces from smiling too hard, and hyperactive children. Ultimately, it was an experience that catalyzed a chain reaction of innovation and the start of our CAP.

After coming back from Barrilete, we headed straight for Hamburgo, where we met a lady named Milena Cruz. Despite our groggy selves, we managed to stay awake (mostly) and learned about what she does and how she contributes to different organizations. Afterwards, we ate dinner, taught English, and here we are!

Through our jam-packed day full of moving around and listening to different people speak, we still all experienced the meaning of aid, both locally and internationally. I can’t wait to see what our CAP develops into, and I’m so happy we can all do it as a team.