However, my sadness runs much deeper than just empathy. A quote we read prior to visiting one of our work sites this week has resonated deeply with me: “More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them.” You see, more than just empathizing with Salvadorans- I have become friends with them. I already miss Don Corneilo laughing and telling me that I am “mas fuerte” as I struggle with the pickax. I will miss Jaquin, our driver, dancing and singing Michael Jackson or saying “Hola Emeli” with his contagious smile. Over the past couple of days I have spent time with a 17 year old named Elmer. We spent the majority of our time drawing pictures and labeling them in Spanish and English. As our van drove away today, my heart was breaking knowing that there was a good chance that I would never see him again. I made him promise me to be a “bien estudiante.” He smiled and said “I promise” in English.There have been many of these moments on this trip- many more than I can possibly include in a short blog. So, more than anything else, as I go to my last site tomorrow- it will not be so much about finalizing our projects or rushing to finish as much as we can. In the words of Henri Nouwen, It will be “…knowing people by name, eating and drinking with them, listening to their stories, and telling them my own, to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that I do not simply like them, but I truly love them.” Here in El Salvador I have discovered the importance and power of what is universal: blood, sweat, tears, sadness, happiness, a smile, a heartache- love. I have fallen in love with these people and their stories. They have moved me in ways I certainly never expected. So in these final 48 hours, I will continue to feel sadness as I prepare to leave El Salvador. However, I will also exemplify the lessons that the Salvadorans have taught me: to enjoy every moment, to worry less and celebrate more, and to get to know, understand, and truly love people.
Emily Meyer is a senior at Drake University and a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma.