By Chris Magero
Over the course of this trip, I have been exposed to a different way of life than the one I am used to. I have found that the people here in Guatemala indulge in an entirely different system than that of the US. The hard working people of this country range from all ages. I have met a twelve year old boy names José, who helps his parents with their fried chicken food stand everyday. I played soccer with him and his friends (Che and Cruz) and occasionally he would be called over by his mom or dad to change a gas tank or run some money over to a house up the road. I also met a man by the name of Agosto who has been working at a ruin in Antigua for 36 years earning minimum wage. He has a wife and raised three kids who now work and have homes of their own.
Even though I found the stories of these people interesting, these things were not what fascinated me. They seemed to appreciate the small things, and took nothing for granted. Agosto told us about how grateful he was for his children, and how proud of them he was for now having homes and families of their own. José never stopped smiling. He’d do whatever his parents told him to do without any complaints and would then join in the laughter and games we were all engaging in. I listened to Agosto’s story and watched José and his friends laugh and play. Watching José, Cruz, and Che hangout, I saw myself and the two close friends I grew up with in them. I couldn’t help but reflect on how I’ve lived throughout my childhood, and how many blessings that I’ve continually taken for granted. It actually made me a pretty emotional and I fell quiet for some time, but I also realized how great my family is for everything they continue to do for me.
Earlier in the trip, Nurse Valadez told us a quote that my mother never lets me forget: “it takes a village to raise a child”, and I am beyond grateful for my village. My parents, my sister, my uncles and aunts, Bella, and even Ali – they are my village. Two years ago, I would’ve never thought that I’d be in a school in America chasing my basketball dreams, or in Guatemala on a Global Ed trip. But I have a village that believes in me, which makes it a whole lot easier to bet on myself.