The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Study abroad diaries: Merida, Mexico (part six)

There comes a point in everyone’s life where everything seems to click and fall into place. It’s as if you’re standing atop the summit of the tallest mountain, that picture-perfect view expanding along the horizon with a cool breeze blowing, sending chills down your spine and giving you the feeling that your whole life is about to start over; today was that day.

Now into the final stretch of my time studying abroad here in Merida, the realization that this dream experience must come to an end in the near future is starting to become more and more clear. It’s with this realization and the events that played out this past week that I find myself overcome with a sense of responsibility and accountability to these kids, these families and the Emiliano Zapata Sur community.

Wednesday, Feb. 12 started out just like most days here: A calm morning filled with moms, dads, hard workers and those alike all in motion to get their day started. Classes came and passed without much thought, and before long, it was time to head out to the community to partake in our service. As we arrived at the house more prepared than ever before, our three- hour session kicked off, but today was different, there was something in the air.

Uncomfortable, I found myself having trouble leveling with the kids and getting them to understand the activities we had all worked so hard to organize. Although silently frustrated, we progressed through a reflection activity, then to an English lesson and on to the last of the three, a photography lesson.

It wasn’t until the kids got ahold of our cameras that I realized the weight of what we were actually doing in this community. I wasn’t frustrated with them; it was the weight of how badly the others and I wanted to be a positive influence and inspiration that came crashing down.

The goal or overall theme for our kids throughout this program has been the arts and using the arts to develop their creativity and make learning something that they enjoy and feel is a necessary part of every day life.

While watching the kids venture around the community taking pictures of everything they enjoyed – friends, family, horses, dogs and even their neighbors – it suddenly hit me. That wind that cripples took over my whole body and it all became clear.

We weren’t just taking pictures; this was something bigger, something significant. Later the next day, instead of having our usual class at Universidad Marista, each group had the chance to go back out to the community and talk one-on-one with the moms, without any of the kids being present. An unique opportunity all of us were thrilled to have.

While the talk mostly surrounded education, the good and the bad, and what the moms in the community felt about it, it was the final conversation that opened my eyes to the true impact of this program. Hesitant to respond at first, the question of what the moms thought about us students and what we had organized and done with the kids thus far surfaced.

Their response was something I could have never expected. Collectively, the moms explained how much of an inspiration we all had been to their children and their learning process.

One of the fathers even explained how, through this program, the community had been brought closer together, bringing with them new skills and new knowledge that they had learned in their respective groups.

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