In the spring of my junior year of high school I attended a trip with seven other classmates to a small town in Guatemala. Our intention was to observe and learn, to connect and to experience just a glimpse of how other cultures live.
We split up and lived separately in host families homes in the small town at the bottom of the mountains. We ate breakfast with them, helped with chores, shadowed some jobs, and learned about their lives. We heard stories of how they came to this place and how they created their home together.
Many shared their story with us, and each was profound. They told us stories of how they all had to flee their homes into the woods, how they survived the war and found others to make a beautiful and comfortable home with. They created a safe place for their children, and their children’s children. They made a school, for elementary and for high school. They built a clinic with medical care. They created a new life for themselves.
I learned so very much about the human being as a whole—that we are the culmination of our experiences, that we are feeling-based, that we all thrive on one thing…and that one thing is love. Love will carry us through anything, even when we feel like we won’t make it another breath.
This trip was one of the human experience, how we face our burdens and rise above.
Despite each person sharing their most difficult things that happened in their lives, they are the most alive, raw and true human beings I have ever met. They know what life is supposed to be and what is means to be human. They know how hard is was in the past, but that doesn’t stop them from living in the now and cherishing the good moments they are making in the present.
I saw incredible tenacity, great strength, and beautiful courage. I saw how people go from complete hopelessness and void to going within and turning it around. While everyone has hard times in their lives, while everyone has loved and lost, not everyone has experienced life like that.
When I listened to these incredible stories, I connected with each one of them, learning their truths. I learned what it truly means to be a valiant human being.
I have had some of the greatest experiences that a human being could have had the opportunity to have. I have also been through some of the hardest things a human being could ever have to deal with. I have had the opportunity to travel to other countries. I have observed and celebrated humanity on various levels. I have attended and participated in such events that only the elite attend. I have participated in some things that one would see in areas of extreme poverty. I have observed, I have witnessed traumas, trials and tribulations. I have seen people rise above, in the face of adversity, not because they wanted to, but because they had to. In all of my time on this planet, I have fallen in love with humanity because I believe people are innately good. I have learned to love more, give more, be more. And still, I have so much more to see.
I have learned incredible courage, strength, and perseverance in both my life and in listening to others. I saw something I could and will never learn sitting in a classroom. I cannot begin to name how vast and wide the wisdom humans hold.