Were there any aspects of traveling abroad that surprised you?
You would think that people would be really different than where you’re from but they’re really not. I’m originally from Ethiopia—what I see back home in Ethiopia and in Guatemala is so similar and it was like a flashback, I loved it so much. The sense of community there and in Ethiopia is similar. Strangers come by and say “hi, good morning, how are you doing,” and they don’t pass without saying something. It’s the same way back home. Your cousins will be literally living next to you; when I was in [Guatemala], I was living with a host family and the brothers lived down the street, the cousins were right next door, and it was just like that back home. They were both very tight communities.
Do you think that traveling is important for people your age?
Yeah absolutely. You have to be able to see that there are other people, and understand that most of them don’t have the things that we do, especially in the US. We have so many opportunities and resources that other people don’t have at all. I became appreciative of what I do have because there are people who don’t have much; even if they did, it’s really nice to go out and see the world, because the world is a big place and to be able to see all of it is just a blessing.
Did you have any other significant interactions with locals in Guatemala?
I met this girl, her name was Mary, and she told me that she got a scholarship in the US because she spoke English. I thought about how powerful that is…just being able to speak a different language could change your life forever!
How do you think this trip has impacted you?
This trip just made me see that I have so much right now. I need to go out there and help the people who don’t have the same opportunities that I have, and to be thankful every day. I’m going to do study abroad every single year of my college experience. In the future I want to do something where I can travel, and visit places and actually give back to the community; I don’t know what it would be exactly, but something like that would be great.