Arms Wide Open
By Ana Martin and Kendall Quinn
We were the kids in school who you would see walking hand in hand always laughing about something, practically inseperable. We chose to go on this Global Ed experience with the thought of having time to explore the world together, as best friends. We never had the thought of connecting with others in our community as we started this adventure.
The first couple days we were stuck together at the hip, taking pictures of the mountainous landscape and learning more things about each other as we hiked the volcanoes of Antigua. Even though we were surrounded by kids from our school that we haven’t had the chance to connect with yet, we were caught in our own friendship bubble, only concerned about ourselves.
This routine shattered when Ana got a positive test and, along with others in our group, was separated and put into quarantine. We were both upset about these circumstances but understood it was the reality of the world we lived in. We realized it would be days until we were able to safely be together based on the CDC guidelines.
With Ana on the other side of the lake, feeling mild symptoms of COVID, she was stripped away not only from the outdoor activities of Guatemala but also her best friend. The first day of quarantine was not only a physical struggle but a mental one as she realized it was time to connect with new people on this trip. She found herself opening up to the kids she once saw sitting in the back of her math class. She learned she could make new connections with the people she has seen everyday, but failed to reach out to in the past. Even though she missed her best friend, she cherished the new relationships she made. All people she had seen before, but failed to reach out. She found that the quarantine experience was the best time of her trip, because it caused her to make meaningful connections in an environment where she hadn’t known anyone before. Watching Descendants until late at night, or different people declaring themselves dictator of COVID town – these small experiences had more meaning to them than Ana had expected.
Kendall was exploring the world of Guatemala, with a negative test result, but without her other half. She had the same realization as Ana on the other side of the lake. She saw that she had been too involved in a singular friendship and that she forgot the endless connections she could make with not only her peers but also the people of Guatemala. As she approached the local kids of Cerro de Oro, she saw how easy it was to connect with people if you just reach out, and that those connections make meaning in our lives. She realized that when you seek connections and relationships with people not only do you learn the importance of real conversation, but you appreciate the openness of the Guatemalan people. One of the largest life lessons that Kendall took from the people of Guatemala was that importance of reaching out, putting down your screen, and getting involved with your community and the people that make it.
Now, don’t get us wrong, you will still see us, arms linked, probably laughing about something down the hallways of school. But this time our arms will be linked with more friends, and we owe the meaningful connections to this global ed experience. If it weren’t for the experiences of this Guatemalan trip, we wouldn’t have had the chances to make meaningful connections with our new friends and the communities of Guatemala.