My 3 Desires
I remember sitting in my bedroom in Chicago, IL (USA) staring at my wall, and trying to figure out my next steps, as if the wall contained some encryption that secretly held the answer to “What’s Next?”. My life was changing both personally and professionally. I was in an interesting transition (the type that you feel is life-altering). I know that may sound dramatic, but that’s what it was to me. All I knew were three things: 1. I wanted to learn Spanish, 2. I wanted to travel and meet new people, and 3. I wanted to continue working in education and making a difference in children’s lives.
GVI combined those three desires for me. Now, I am in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico and seven weeks into my social science internship. Words cannot begin to describe or capture how rewarding this experience has been. However, this is a blog so I will try my best.
My First Desire: Learning Spanish
As part of the GVI program, it is recommended that you take a Spanish course if you aren’t fluent. This request makes sense since we work with children who only know Spanish. Therefore, I enrolled in a 40-hour course to learn Spanish. For the first two weeks of my time here, I went to Spanish everyday for 4 hours. That was a lot of Spanish to learn in such a short amount of time, but it was very helpful. With each word and rule that I absorbed, I felt in love with the language. It also gave me more tools to communicate with the children without having to engage in a game of Charades or demonstrate my mediocre acting skills. So once my two weeks of formal Spanish lessons were finished, I chose to continue the course (of course after I took my one-week break).
By the fifth week, I was able to have basic conversations with locals and the children. I tried to speak to as many people as possible in Spanish when I was by myself, and I made a lot of mistakes. However, the people here were so patient with me and helped me. I became so motivated to learn more Spanish that I bought a book written in the language. That may have been a little ambitious since I am still only on the fifth page, and I have been actively reading the book for two weeks now. I guess that is what you do when you choose to love. You commit, work really hard, put in your all, sometimes, set unrealistic expectations, make mistakes, and persevere through the challenges because it is just worth it.
My Second Desire: Traveling and Meeting New People
Choosing to live in Mexico for a little less than three months was a bold step for me. I have traveled to other countries, but only for a week or two at a time. This time, I didn’t just want to simply pass through a country; I wanted to live temporarily in a country. You experience the city so differently when you stay for an extended amount of time and work. Although my Australian friends still tell me that I am on holidays, I like to say that I am working abroad.
During my stay here, I have traveled to other cities on the weekends. I went to Coba to visit the ruins and Tulum to swim in the Cenote (river in Mexico that runs under the land). I took a four-hour bus ride to Bacalar to witness the seven different shades of blue in the water. It is a paradise. I ventured to Merida and enjoyed their deep culture and art. I went to Uxmal and had an opportunity to enjoy the serenity of ruins. I explored Isla Mujeres on a small golf cart that drove the maximum speed of probably 15 miles per hour with two other friends. We unintentionally caused traffic jams, drove to the tip of the island, and stood on the cliff watching the water all around us. It was a beautiful scenery to see with close friends.
Also, I have met inspiring people from different countries. Although some were brief encounters, they all had interesting stories and various motivations for traveling the world. I met people at hostels, tours, or even, at times sitting, at a coffee shop, but the people who have impacted me the most are the people I work with every day: the GVI staff, the staff who run the programs, the volunteers, and the children. Each person, in a unique way, became my teacher. They have exposed me to different cultures. Their stories have challenged my perspective. Their devotion is contagious, and their welcoming-nature is heart-warming. They have become my family.
My Last Desire (in this blog): Making a Difference in Children’s Lives
There was one young boy who did not know how to write his numbers or count at the age of six. Therefore together, we practiced playing games to keep him interested. Lego has many uses, and this time we used the pieces to learn math. Another young girl was seen as easily distracted, but she was dyslexic. So as a team, she and I worked together to look at the same words, to perceive them differently, but to come to a common understanding. There are many of these stories, but to be completely honest, the children have had a large impact on me. They have helped me learn Spanish. They have welcomed me, and they have reminded me, that although you don’t always know what’s next, enjoy life.
So, here I am in Mexico with three weeks left in my internship. I have learned a lot of Spanish. I have traveled to a few cities and met friends from around the world, and I’m helping to make a difference. However, this experience has been so much more than I expected. It changes you in a positive way. I have learned both professional and personal skills. It is has helped me become a better person, and so my dear reader, I challenge you to try. I dare you to fall in love with the language, to open your heart to new people, and to be the difference here in Mexico because it is just worth it.
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Ben took the leadership in the kindergarten class teaching the kids some vocabulary in English! #gvitravel… https://t.co/1o7UPyKgQU6 hours ago
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