My time here was truly inspirational, educational, unforgettable, and I do apologize as I can’t possibly sum up my whole experience in a blog. This trip challenged me to put my values into action and do what I believe is right. As I applied for this trip back in September, I was only focused on the working/building aspect of the trip – little did I know, what I was about to work with was so much more than picking up a shovel or a paint brush. Each day, my life was filled with the children of El Salvador who brought not only their energy but their smiles – and might I add, they had A TON of energy! I remember taking Spanish in high school and thinking, “this language is so easy” haha oh was I ever wrong! I could not speak a word to the children nor did I understand what they were asking me – I felt like a deer in headlights! Despite my embarrassments with attempting to speak Spanish, I have never felt so much love from the kids! They didn’t judge me for not knowing Spanish (at least I hope they didn’t haha), they even tried so hard to slow down what they were saying so that I could understand. As my last hour on the worksite approached, all the children knew that today was going to be our last day. They held onto our hands and our legs and asking us not to go. They even held onto our fingers as we were in the van and driving away – running with the van until they no longer can catch up to us. It touches my heart to see that these children wait at the worksite early in the morning and running up to us and just saying a simple “hola” and spending the rest of their day with us.
I have learned so much from this trip and have gained a whole lot more than what I had expected to gain. One thing that I have truly taken to heart is the idea of time. When I think about time, I just think about what time I should do this/ that or asking “what time is it?” I’ve realized that time shouldn’t be counted nor watched but instead valued and cherished. As I started this trip, I was so upset that I had missed the check in time that I let it ruin my day. I forgot to look at the big picture – how I am still going to El Salvador and do the exact same things as I have planned to do while I was down there. We wake up each day timing our events and school schedules that we sometimes miss the little things that makes us smile. I have come to appreciate that time is so valuable and what better way to spend it than to live in the moment and just enjoy each minute! Do something that makes you happy, that motivates you, that challenges your values, that changes your life – this is truly my happiness! I would like to say goodbye to all the wonderful people that I have met on this trip! You are all so beautiful in your own way - I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to meet you all and share this wonderful experience with ya’ll! Please come visit Canada, I swear it’s not as scary and cold as it sounds!
Annie Cai is a 4th year at University of Alberta and a member of Delta Gamma.