Saturday, December 29, 2012

Opening hearts and opening minds!

After a long day of traveling, we all have arrived safely in San Salvador! There were a few glitches and delays for some members of the group, but smooth travels overall. Tricia didn’t waste any time exposing us to the true culture of El Salvador. We met our van driver, Miguel, at the airport and we were off in a flash. The speed, intensity, and chaos of drivers here was a bit of a culture shock for most of us.

The first stop of our trip was a brisk afternoon hike to the top of El Puerto de Diablo. It was a bit more of a workout than some of us anticipated, but the breathtaking views and photo opportunities definitely made our hard work pay off. Our group really enjoyed this first adventure because it allowed us to see some of the people of El Salvador in a natural setting. This area wasn’t a tourist stop, but a place where normal people would spend an afternoon.

After seeing a bit of the city and culture, we went to the Casa Voluntariado Santa Rafaela Maria, where we will be staying all week. We enjoyed meeting the Sisters and hearing about their mission and why they are working to help the people of El Salvador. Dinner tonight was a traditional Salvadorian dish: papusas!

Our first reflection of the week followed dinner.   We opened our discussion with a quote from Rabindranth Tagore, “I slept and dreamt that life was pleasure: I woke and saw that life was service; I served and discovered that service was pleasure.” While discussing this quote, it was great to see that even though each of us comes from a different part of the United States and has different backgrounds, we all have a common purpose. We have given up a week of our time to come to this community to make a difference and serve. An open mindset is something that each of us possesses and we know that the people of El Salvador will make a large difference in our lives as well.

Even though this trip is only a week long, we know it will impact the rest of our lives. It will help us remember that service is a strong value that each of our organizations have in common. We must allow this week to motivate and empower us to bring a passion for service back to each of our communities. We can’t wait to see what the rest of the week holds!
Laura Mason is a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority and a senior at the University of Southern Indiana.

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