Written by Emma Frasier (U.S.-Indiana)
As soon as I returned home from my first trip to Guatemala, I knew I had to go back. I immediately began saving my money and before I knew it, I was packing my bags the summer after my junior year to head back for two more weeks. I had such an incredible trip the year prior that I was wondering how this year would compare. Little did I know that this year’s trip would leave an even greater impact on my life. T
his time around was filled with even more laughs, adventures, and above all, a growth in confidence that I had never found in myself before. I spent time with a new host family who I was actually able to converse with (through many bumps and bruises in grammar and vocabulary….) They were a family of teachers and were so patient with me as I fluttered my way through making full sentences. I came to Guatemala this time with the mentality that I would use Spanish whenever I could, because as long as I was practicing and trying my hardest, I knew that people would see my effort.
In addition to having an amazing host family, I lived with my friend Claire, who traveled with me both weeks on last year’s trip as well. We talked about life here in Guatemala compared to the states and because of her, I really began to understand the impact we were making in peoples’ lives. Our entire group this year was so close-knit. We all clicked well and spent our time making the most out of every possible adventure. Traveling with friends is a beautiful thing, and I would not have traded the people I got to know so well and all of the memories we made on this trip for anything.
We studied Spanish for five hours each day again, and I even got placed with my same teacher from last year, Alexander. He was so patient as I struggled my way through conversations. He’s in a Spanglish band called Pa’Que, and a group of us went to a bar called King & Queen and watched him play. They played a mixture of Spanish and English songs and were phenomenal! It was a night I will never forget.
In addition to studying Spanish, we were able to participate in the Safe Stoves Project again, this time with two of our new friends from Canada. It’s pretty amazing to think about how many new people we met from all over the world just because we studied Spanish at the same school. We even met a girl from Indiana who is a part of IU’s Timmy chapter! Funny how once you begin to travel, you realize just how small of a world we really live in.
Throughout this second trip in Guatemala, I was able to hike and see some incredible views, attend my first Guatemalan Futbol game (which was an experience of a lifetime), hang out with a little Guatemalan girl born with down syndrome, experience Guatemalan night life through salsa dancing and bar hopping, enjoy live Spanish music, attend my first Catholic mass, and help over 400 patients receive proper healthcare. As I enter my senior year, I am going to serve as Butler’s Timmy Global Health chapter president; something I never would’ve imagined until I traveled to Guatemala
So, if you’ve read this whole post and have made it to this point, I just want to leave you with one last thing: Never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. As soon as you let go of the fears that you may have about traveling—whether it’s figuring out cost, getting lost, not speaking the language, whatever it may be—you will find yourself immersed in an adventure that leaves you humbled and grateful.
Having the opportunity to travel not just once, but twice, to this amazing country has done more for me than I ever thought possible. So if you ever find yourself questioning whether you should travel somewhere, or be a part of a trip, don’t be afraid to say YES, because you never know where that will take you.