As I reach the end of our trip, I continue to encounter new people and experiences that will forever be embedded in my memory. Today was one of the most eye opening, amusing, and emotional experiences. As La Lider Del Dia, it is my job to make sure that our schedule is organized and that everyone is safe and on task. Lucky for me, today was a fun day, where we get to participate in less laborious activities. Our first destination was to the baseball field, to learn about Fundación a Villa Liberación where we played baseball with different teams of over 200 boys from the ages of 5-22. Many of the students that I teach English to are members on this team, which helps to keep them off the streets and supports them to go to the major leagues. Although baseball is not my forte, I enjoyed myself and was able to experience one of the most positive impacts in their community.
After baseball, we went swimming and had the chance to relax and enjoy ourselves in one of the higher end neighborhoods. As much as I would love to continue on about the perks of our free day, these activities are of little significance when it comes to the bigger picture. When paying attention the the area that we were in and the people we came across, it reminded me much of Chicago and how segregated it is. It easy to come and have fun but the most important thing is to understand the differences and similarities between places that we travel to. One of the things that I noticed instantly was the uneven distribution of resources. In the neighborhood where our beautiful hostel resides, outside the pearly gates exists a completely different world. Yes there is beauty in the struggle, but the poverty of the neighborhood is unfair and nonsensical. Dirty streets and leaking waterways fill the streets in addition to small dilapidated homes and small corner store businesses. However, the most beautiful thing to me is how appreciative the people are of their community and the happiness that they express even in their predicament. Two and a half billion people live under $2 a day worldwide and at home, I am complaining because I don’t have the latest iPhone. This type of exposure is very humbling and you have to experience it for yourself to truly comprehend, but it makes me appreciate a whole lot.
From trying new foods, to working hard, to waking up at 6 am, my favorite part of this trip is the English tutoring classes. Along side two of my fellow peers, we teach English to group of 17-19 year old, majority baseball players. First thing I thought of when we first met were the boys back home. They talk too much and play too much. At first, it was difficult to understand and teach them, but during this trip I have learned to understand them clearly and speak common phrases in order to connect with my students. One of my students today, who doesn’t speak English well, described to me personal details of his life. Just last week he had a little baby girl named Brittany, and managed to still make it everyday to class. In addition, he plays baseball and hopes to make it to a major league. Although I’m their teacher, I learn much more from them than I could ever teach them, and having gained their respect is so gratifying.It saddens me to know that I will be leaving soon, and probably won’t see most of them again. But I have faith in their future’s and I know that their potential is unlimited.
With all things considered, nothing could ever compare to the relationships and bonds that I have built on this trip. We have slept in the same room together, ate together, cried, laughed, worked, and grown together.The skills and knowledge that I have collected will forever stick with me, and I wish that others will take the opportunity and travel to new places, meet new people, and do something positive for someone else.
-Dawn aka Boss lady