This blog was written by Greg Heindel, one of the 2019 EIC School the World team members.
You can learn a lot about a person when you travel. You can learn even more about yourself, or an entire culture if you are willing to commit yourself.
Today most of the 2019 School the World volunteer team is around 30,000 ft above sea-level cramped in flying sardine cans pointed towards different parts of the world after departing from Guatemala and successfully completing the construction of three new classrooms and two playgrounds for Caserio Chuchun, a community of Sacapulas. We all have a feeling of accomplishment, but the sense of fulfillment comes from far more than the concrete development we assisted with.
After spending a week with the community members of Sacapulas including visiting the citizens in their homes, speaking with the municipality, and working side by side with the community, it is quite clear that they already have the drive and desire to reach their educational goals. The collaboration between the School the World team and their community is what gave them the foundation and facilities to move forward and we were sent off with a ceremony that showed their absolute appreciation for everyone involved.
The mayor and his municipal staff were present and gave heartfelt speeches to thank our team, the parents, and the community for all of their hard work. The beautifully decorated ceremony included live local musicians, gift exchanges, home cooked meals, dancing, and lots of playing on the new playgrounds as they saw us off on our journey back home. Our goodbyes were long and it was sad but we left smiling from ear to ear as we piled back into the buses bound for Antigua.
By this point the EIC School the World team was used to the bumpy roads down the mountainside under skies lacking any clouds or even a jet streak. We were weaving in and out of traffic, as aggressively as it was natural for commuters in Guatemala, perusing alongside the active volcanoes with only a few words of congratulations and pleasantries exchanged as we soaked in all that was accomplished as a group and as individuals.
It was well worth the peace within the silence because we knew that we still had one last night together to share our personal stories and feelings about our experiences before departing to our home countries. Needless to say, we will all bring something new back with us and will return the favor when we return next year to assist in constructing another elementary school in Guatemala.