Leave reality and the drama that comes with it at home and allow yourself to completely immerse in a new culture and opportunity to give back.
In my short time with GVI I learnt so much from the other volunteers, and the beautiful children at the Ludoteca. One of the biggest things that I took from my experience was an appreciation of the purity of youth. Everyday I was in the presence of children who have experienced more hardship than I may ever know, yet they exuded so much happiness and unending enthusiasm. Despite speaking minimal Spanish, we were able to form the type of bonds that I will never forget. We’d get competitive in a game of soccer; we’d celebrate the completion of a puzzle; we’d get creative with tie-dying; we’d laugh in group activities; and we’d be silly through music and dance. I realized that we can powerfully communicate in ways that go beyond words; what they need is to feel valued, important and safe. This is why gaining their trust and affection meant more to me than anything else I experienced on this trip.
I believe we can learn a lot from children; they are resilient (particularly when no amount of soccer balls to the face could or would deter them from finishing a game) and they are uninhibited. They do not fear judgment or repercussions in the same way that we tend to in our adult lives – they throw themselves in completely. If you pay attention, these kids will teach you so much, and if you are genuine and gentle with them, they will show you the most adorable type of love.
This is why my advice to anyone considering this program is to come with the right attitude. It is certainly true here that what you put into the program is what you will get out of it. Prepare yourself for a bit of hard work, patience, and a positive spirit both in the house and at the Ludoteca. Leave reality and the drama that comes with it at home and allow yourself to completely immerse in a new culture and opportunity to give back.
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