While there are several moments and memories that I could reflect on at this point, there are some that I will take with me for the rest of my life. One of our first “adventures” on this trip was to a Catholic Church in town. We entered the Church a few minutes after mass had started, and there didn’t appear to be any room for us to sit down- we were fine with that. We stood against the wall and listened to what the priest was saying. Suddenly, all of the people started to make room for us, making sure that we had somewhere to sit. This was my very first impression of the people of El Salvador, and I was so completely honored and inspired.
When it was time for communion, I became extremely nervous and apprehensive. I grew up in a Catholic family; however, I was afraid that I was going to do something wrong because of the language barrier. I sat there contemplating what to do…until it hit me- it all means the same thing. These people take pride in the Catholic Church and their faith and so do I, so I stood in line and the feeling I felt was unexplainable. I was so happy that I stepped forward.
One of the other parts of this trip that I will think about every single day is the kids. These kids have a passion for life that I never knew existed. Even though they were extremely aware that we all spoke English, they didn’t care. They would run towards our van when we arrived on a site and would be running after the van waving goodbye as we left. One of the most important things I have learned from the people and the children here is that there are SO many things that are universal in the world, like smiling.
I arrived on site one day and smiled at a boy named Carlos. He was twelve years old and had an unforgettable smile. Because of my smile, he knew that we could be friends. He took my hand and showed me this beautiful tree. We climbed the tree together and sat in it for about twenty minutes trying to communicate, but mostly we just laughed and appreciated the moment we were in. To me, he represented all of the important parts of life. I asked him if he liked to ride his bike and he told me he didn’t have one- but then he smiled and told me he loved to play soccer. I will never forget Carlos.
I have no idea how I am going to adjust to my life back at home but I do know that these people have helped me appreciate the things I have and the importance of every moment. Whenever I forget this, I will think about the smiles in El Salvador that continue to exist, no matter the day.
Meghan Barrett is a senior at Eastern Illinois University and a member of Kappa Delta.