A week ago—our group was made up of 20 strangers. None of us had ever met before. None of us had even spoken to one another. Yet—as I think about leaving tonight, I am sad to say goodbye. I am sad to leave behind not only new friendships, but also the opportunity to experience new things. Being in El Salvador this past week has allowed me the chance to step away from home; to try things that I have never tried before, embrace new people, and to experience the culture of El Salvador.
Before embarking on this journey, lots of family and friends expressed how an experience like this could change one’s life. I have found some truth to this statement and believe that this trip has taught me several very important things that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I’ve learned that emotions are universal. All people smile, laugh and even cry. It’s amazing to see the people and be unable to communicate through language but connect through emotions. Secondly, I learned that material possessions are just that, possessions. The people here do not have a whole lot, but love and time with family and friends means much more than a new pair of shoes.
Lastly, I learned to fully appreciate every moment of every day. This one is the most important. At home, I as well as others often become wrapped up in our busy lives. We plan and work hard and always are looking forward to tomorrow. In El Salvador, the people have taught me to embrace today, because tomorrow is not always a guarantee. When I leave this country, I want to remember these things. I want to embrace all of the wonderful opportunities and experiences that I have been given, and always remember to live each day to the fullest.
Madeja Metcalf is a Junior at the University of Missouri, and a member of Zeta Tau Alpha.