Today was a complete mix of emotions. I really am very excited to see my family and friends and anxious for all the summer plans I have back in Provo and Oregon, but it was so hard to leave my life in El Salvador. I have become so attached to all the people I’ve met there; not just the incredible group of volunteers in our house but all the locals I’ve met through various projects and circumstances. I didn’t think I would cry as much as I did, but I was tearing up for most of the taxi ride to the airport.
One of the hardest things about leaving is knowing that life in that little house in San Salvador doesn’t stop when I leave. There will be fun memories, inside jokes, amazing project successes and learning experiences that everyone else will be there for and I’ll miss out on. But I’ve learned over the years that it doesn’t do any good to worry or dwell on what things I might miss out on, because I can’t do everything.
I plan on filling the rest of my summer with work hours, late nights in the adlab (creative track bonding moments), spontaneous runs to Smith’s for munchies and redbox movies with my roommates, at least one road trip to California, new friends, and no regrets.
It’s hard to sum up my experience in El Salvador in a few words, because honestly, it was life changing. I am a better (I hope) different person than I was 6 weeks ago, and I hope that the ways I’ve grown will allow me to better help others for the rest of my life. We had our last meeting last night before we left and the country directors, Dalyn and Adán, had the four of us who were leaving go around and talk a little bit about our experience. For me, the biggest thing I’ll take away from this trip is that, though I hope and believe that the experiences and interactions with people I had in El Salvador impacted them in a positive way, but more importantly, that the person I became and the things I learned through those experiences can have an even greater impact wherever I am. And, going along with that, getting to know someone and learning to love them is the most important first step before trying to help fill a need they have or find a solution to a problem.
Although I didn’t create and implement some radical new project and change the world in 6 weeks, I think I learned a lot about the people I met, the culture of El Salvador, and the many ways to go about doing development work. And that sometimes the best thing you can give someone is love.
Again, thank you to everyone who supported me in any way for this trip! It has been such a blessing to be able to do it and I am so grateful for all I've been able to experience and learn.
PS: I really will add more pictures or post them on Facebook when I'm at a place with faster internet, so check back soon!