At the end of a five day trip with 10 people and multiple hours of driving in a 12 person van, learning about a different place in a different language has offeref lots of material for reflection.
1. Be grateful: This is a lesson I seem to learn again and again. Many places people do not have enough. It seems that every where I go some people have entirely too much while others have entirely too little. And sadly that too much does not always equate to happiness. Too often we become stressed and down right miserable by our “first world problems.” Is the desire for a iced coffee really worth being cranky? Whose happiness am I affecting when I fail to enjoy simply what I have.
As a second part to above – be grateful for people’s kindness. Sometimes it involves a dinner with an amazing view at a resteraunt you can not afford. Other times it involes being given a bottle of water when you are drenched in sweat just from standing cause your North American butt has never had to deal with 90 degree days and a humidity that is simply unmeasurable. For the homecooked meals during my travels provided by the many people who truly could not afford cooking for me…. thank you. I am also grateful for the unexpected friendships and bonds that can grow while being stuck, I mean traveling with 10 people.
2. You never know what decision may change your life. Being near 10 people in a small van (see above) you naturally hear about their journey. There are all these little twists in our life that lead to getting paid to go to Peurto Rico to learn about the culture and education. Some of these “little twists” in our lives are not so little. For the last 2 weeks I have been focusing a lot of time on education and have realized how large of an impact mine has had on me. My parents made a simple decision, a decision I HATED, to send me to an all girls catholic school. Well now I can not thank them enough. I would like to think that at a public school I would have been as pushed, engaged, and had inspiring teachers and maybe at some schools that would have been possible but I know now that it is unlikely. But i also realize it was not the education as much as the environmemt. I went to a school where friendships formed were lifelong, there were no distractions aka boys, and I was shown that a woman could grow up to be anything. And that kind of education I know is rare.
Catholic School in Puerto Rico
3. Everyone has trouble accepting themselves some just hide it better than others. Being “confined” with ten people you learn a lot about them. I have rediscovered that everyone hates they way the look in a photo. I have learned that even some super beautiful seeing this. I have also learned that apparently I am good at hiding my insecurities well at least to acquaintances. And while acceptance is the ultimate goal its a little relieving to know it is a shared goal.
4. There is no place like home! As with all trips it is exciting to leave but also exciting to go home. Can not wait to take an indoor shower (though now I am addicted to outdoor showers), see the leaves of fall, and most importantly get snuggles from these two 😉