I found myself at a crossroads in my life, so I decided to take the ultimate plunge, put my life on hold, and volunteer abroad. I came across GoEco and they assisted me with finding the perfect volunteer project. In about a month’s span I picked my project and left for Guatemala to volunteer at the Antigua Childcare and Community project. Everyone I interacted with at GoEco was very helpful and efficient. They assisted me with organizing my trip with a few emails and a phone call. I chose to volunteer in Guatemala for two reasons. There was an opportunity to work with kids and pay forward some of the things I had been afforded in my life. And I had traveled to Central America before and found Guatemala to be a safe, beautiful country. I can’t say enough about La Antigua, Guatemala. It offers the best amount of metropolitan mixed with small town friendliness. Anything you could possibly need you can easily find and the city is beautiful and vibrant.
For two weeks I was immersed in a Spanish language course. It was a much needed refresher considering I had last practiced my Spanish in high school. The staff and teachers at the Spanish school were extremely knowledgeable about the language and were great resources regarding Guatemala and Antigua. I truly feel that my Spanish improved greatly and I became conversational in the language.
Once I was done with my Spanish course, I started volunteering at an after school center for children in the neighboring town of San Antonio. A quick bus ride down the road and you arrived at an equally stunning city. I can’t say enough about my time at the center. The kids were extremely bright and so grateful for everything I offered. The children ranged in age from 5 years old to college aged. Since they were not in school, I helped them with English, math, the alphabet, and anything else they wanted to learn.
I am certainly humbled by my time spent with the children and their constant positive attitude, no matter their circumstances. They were so warm and they were always willing to help me with my Spanish. The two directors, who run the school from their house, were some of the happiest people I had ever met. They even raised enough money to tear down their old home and build a two story structure, so more children could come to the center.
Volunteering in Guatemala made me realize how fortunate I am and how important volunteering is. I am now able to see life through the eyes of the children I met in Antigua and they will never know how much they affected me. I hope to go back to Antigua one day, but for now I will carry this experience with me.