“Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one book, one pen, and one teacher can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

I was told free day would be the easiest day to be the leader of the day. This turned out to be a lie. Sure I had the freedom of getting up at a decent hour like 8:00 AM, but after trying to wake people up for the next two hours to get everyone down to breakfast before 10, I realized today would be more challenging than I thought. I must have spent at least 20 minutes in total just waking people up and making sure they stayed up. Throughout the day, it was hard to get my fellow Glimpsers to listen to what I had to say through excitement of having a day off, and get them to where they needed to be on time (we were late to almost every event of the day).

Flashback photo from our warm welcome at Onaney.

Flashback photo from our warm welcome at Onaney.

But then I realized that it felt like we were all a family. Every family has their struggles of getting together and getting ready on time, with members bickering at each other to “hurry up or we’ll be late” I realized that our group loves each other like family, even after only nine days of being all together. In the morning I had the pleasure of seeing all the smiles of the homesick Glimpsers talking to their parents, siblings and other loved ones on the phone, and I later realized I saw those same smiles light up when we explored San Juan together for our free day. 

To start our explore time, we went to a local flea market, led by one of our ambassadors Manuel. We had to dodge through small streets filled with people and motorbikes to stay together, but we got to see all of the interesting foods and clothing that people offered to sell as well. After a while of browsing, our group split in two as some went to the nail salon while others went to check out the clothing and candy stores. As part of the larger group that didn’t go to the salon, I can tell you that it was tough wandering as a group of eleven. It takes a lot of patience to wait 20 minutes for the last one or two people to finish browsing the store.

But, as always, we made the most out of our adventures together by making each other laugh and smile all the time, and I’m sure we got great pictures and memories out of our day today. 

Flashback photo to dancing on the second day.

Nightly reflection groups.

However, we later learned that the other group had taken longer in the nail salon than expected. They got out of the salon and had gotten ice cream by 5:10, but then that they had to be back to Onaney, our hotel, in 5 minutes. They broke into full sprint with ice cream in hand back to the hotel and made it last minute, sweating, gasping for air, and licking their cones as well. It made for a very funny story. 

Flashback photo to our dance class.

After a short but important seminar about appreciation, we had dinner. At dinner, our GGLs and I noticed that our usual cliques had broken and we had fully mixed into new groups for our conversations at dinner, which really showed how far we had come over the course of this last week and a half as a family. It made my day to see everyone shining bright with smiles and laughter at dinner, and it made me even happier to see that they carried over to our usual tired nightly meeting. As we all shared our experiences and thoughts for the day, my only thought was: “We really have become a family.”

Steven, our Leader of the Day!