Student first impressions

After working in remote villages on four continents for nearly twenty years, I am still surprised, invigorated and inspired by each experience. There is nothing I enjoy more than taking it all in through the lenses of urban youth from the United States. I decided to post some of the students’ early impressions so you can feel a little of what they are feeling.

Once we got settled in with our host families and worked a few days building the school, I sat down and had a conversation with some of the students. I plan to check in with them from time to time and will share with you how their perspectives may change. Below are some of their early impressions.

Welcome Ceremony: It felt like those western movies where they have the stand-offs. Both sides were thinking, who’s going to say something first? We kind of stared at each other, sizing each other up. Then I realized they weren’t going to hurt us, so might as well introduce myself. I looked up and said, “Hola muchachos!” Next thing I knew Ivory, another student, and I got up and started dancing! I thought, this is what we need to do to break the ice and I was right! —Minah

Covenant Signing: I thought that was a special moment because the village all came out and were happy to sign it. The feeling was, you’re here to help us, so we’re here to help you as well. If we’re going to help them build this school, they’re going to help us by protecting us, feeding us and giving us a home for the time we’re here. —Jessica

Working with the community: When he started helping me dig the hole on the work-site today, I thought, wow, I was helping him, but he’s helping me. It felt really good working together. He even gave me a high five! —Ron

Unexpected: I didn’t expect my host mother would be the same age as me, 16, with a baby. But then, I know people at home that are my age and pregnant… —Menuette

The Latrine: I was scared to use the bathroom because it’s on top of a hill. When I sat down, I thought I was going to fall backwards and got really scared! I even thought I was going to roll down the hill at one point! Also, the pig followed me and just stood there and watched me. —Ashley

Communicating: I was really excited to meet my host family, but then it got silent really quickly. For us, it wasn’t about trying to talk to them because I speak Spanish. It was awkward because we had nothing to talk about! They were really shy as we were. I am confident it will get more comfortable as we spend more time together. —Lesly