The first 24 years of my life have been filled with a lot of joy and blessings–also hurt and sorrow. As we all know, life has its ups and its downs. I would love to sit here and write about how amazing my life has been since I’ve last written in this (sadly abandoned) blog–that’s one of my “new years resolutions,” to write more… we’ll see how that goes– but that would be a total and utter lie. Don’t get me wrong, life has been pretty amazing here in Guatemala, but I sure do miss Texas, my family and my friends. As you see, here I am sitting in my pajamas in my office at home on Super Bowl Sunday, procrastinating as I should be preparing my classes for the week at school. BTW, this date is supposed to be super special for me because one, I’m American and two, I was born on Super Bowl Sunday 25 years ago! You would think I should host a party with snacks, beer and a lot of friends. But that isn’t happening.
You see, those things I just mentioned are super fun and part of my life growing up–and of course I miss them so much! But I’m here to share with you how a change of scenery can really change a person for the better.
I moved to Guatemala with my husband almost two years ago on May 16, 2016. The first few months were good because we had just gotten married, we just started living with each other and we were still figuring out our lives as newlyweds. I got a job as an English teacher at the University just five minutes from away from our house and Edwin was studying for a scholarship he was applying for.
When the holidays came around towards the end of October, I was feeling extremely lost. They weren’t any celebrations or festivities going on like there were back home in Texas. Edwin made it his goal to have a special Thanksgiving for me even if it was just the two of us–and we sure did make it pretty special! I have a video if you’d like to see it 🙂
Christmas time was approaching and I remember feeling so homesick. I would cry and cry because I missed my mom, my dad, my sisters and all of my extended family that truly made Christmas time so special. Edwin came up with the idea that we go to Texas for Christmas and surprise my family. That was the best gift I received for Christmas 2016. That small time we spent with my family was a rejuvenating feeling. I was recharged and ready to being 2017 with a big heart and open mind.
That’s when we both stated our jobs at Esperanza Juvenil as English teachers. After graduating from college in 2015, I felt that I needed to find a job in my degree and be in that job for a long time. Never did I think I would become a teacher. Begin a teacher is one thing, but being a teacher at Esperanza Juvenil is something totally different.
The children we work with come from little villages around Guatemala with little or absolutely no resources. Some of them, from the age of nine, move away from their families to live and study in Guatemala City with a vision to change their life, their families lives and their community forever. It’s pretty incredible the choice they have to make at such a young age.
I remember when I first stated working, the CEO of Boys Hope Girls Hope (the organization Esperanza Juvenil is a part of) told me that learning English is more valuable that a college degree to Guatemalan Citizens. Ever since then, that has been mine and Edwin’s mission as their English teachers, not only to teach then the language, but also show them it’s use and importance.
Everyday is extremely tiring. We leave work at 4 p.m. and we are like dead zombies as we drive home. By Saturday we just want to lay in bed all day long.
But you know what, we wouldn’t change that for the world.
Coming back to school this year has been rewarding. Our students understand everything we say, they are gaining more confidence in themselves to use the language, and they also see the importance it is for their lives now and in the future.
It’s nice to be able to teach them my native language, but it’s even better to be able to teach them everyday life skills and morals for them to turn into excelling citizens.
I want to share with you about my birthday since this is sort of a birthday “Cheers to 25” post…
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 I got to school like any normal day. I greeted all the teachers, signed into the notebook for work and walked to my classroom. I opened the door (I am the homeroom teacher for 4th grade) and all of my 4th grade students were waiting in their seats my classroom with a pink balloon in each hand and the lights off “SORPRESA!!!!” It was the cutest, sweetest, kindest thing I’d ever witnessed! School starts at 7 a.m. and they got there at 6:30 a.m. just to show their love for me. I received a lot of cards and gifts from my students, like stuffed animals, candies, earrings, apples and millions of beautifully decorated birthday cards. They have nothing, yet they give everything they have. And that’s all I could ever ask for as I enter into my 25th year of life.
I’m still young and I have a lot to learn in this life, but I have to say that my change of scenery has taught me a lot of things; to me, the most important one is humility.
Edwin and I won’t be at EJ for the rest of our lives, but the students love and the things they taught us will be in our hearts forever.
So, here’s to 25
here’s to more adventures,
I encourage you to leave your comfort zone and don’t be afraid of a change of scenery.