Well, my summer was full of moments just like that.
A couple of weeks after the Spring 2014 semester ended, I got on a plane and headed to El Progreso, Honduras, where I got to spend an entire week in the amazing Villa Soleada. Villa Soleada is one of those places that you do not fully understand until you see it for yourself. It includes two children’s homes, a new library, a bilingual school, multiple soccer fields, a lot of houses, and even more happy people who are there welcoming you with open arms. Villa and everything in it was built from the bottom up by the villagers and the volunteers that come with the organization that I was volunteering with (Students Helping Honduras, ceciskids.org). I was, of course, impressed with amazing things happening in Villa, but I was even more impressed with the people. By our standards, they don’t have much—families of six live in houses smaller the one my family of two lives in, there is no hot water, air conditioner is nonexistent, and they cut the grass with a machete (talk about a culture shock). However, I had the opportunity to meet the kindest, most dedicated, caring, and welcoming people I have ever encountered. The kids in the children’s home were so sweet and playful, even though many of them are missing their parents and sometimes all of their family members. The men in the village spent all day working on the construction sites with us, and they were all so dedicated and hardworking. The villagers invited us to their church service (which was so fun), invited us into their homes, fed us, and completely trusted us playing with their children. My week in Villa really opened my eyes to the struggles that people in other countries face—the constant threat of gang violence, poverty, lack of resources to education, and more. But more, I began to realize the blessings in my own life. I was born in a country where I learned English from the beginning, and I never had to worry about not getting a job because I lacked that skill. I learned how much we take a hot shower for granted after a hot day at work, and that most of us do not even have hot days at work because we work inside. I realized how lucky I am to have two loving parents, and that I never really lack anything I absolutely need. I realized how happy a simple life is, and that you don’t need all of these luxuries to lead a fulfilling life, just the love of God and those around you.