Getting Back from Mexico was like waking up from a wonderful dream. I was extremely sad when we left, and I just kept wishing we could go back and stay longer. It was a trip where I could forget myself and experience how other people live, their culture and what they do on a day-to-day basis. No one moment was my favorite, but I think the moment when I started realizing the great opportunity this was, was talking to Maria, the lady that hosted us in Arizona. Maria told me about her struggle to get to the States. All she wanted was to help her kids and to work hard to support them. She was willing to sacrifice everything.
Later, as we journeyed deeper into Mexico, we had chances to serve. We were able to help paint houses with Familias Unidas in Kino, and then work at Casa Franciscana in Guaymas and serve food. The thing that stood out to me is how grateful the people were. They wanted so much to let us know that they appreciated us.
Sometimes during the week, I would feel bad in thinking how ungrateful I was because I had so much more, and in a way my life was better. But I don’t think life is measured by material things. I was able to see how much happiness these people still had and the love for one another. They would always be smiling and laughing, and that is greater than any material thing. Even though we served others, we were also being served. I felt that every story and person I met was inspiration for me to work harder in my schooling to one day visit again and to serve others in any way possible.
Lastly, I want to say that the group was great. We were able to build friendships and share an experience that will stay with us forever. I never heard any complaining and we were able to work together in whatever the task. I wish to thank all of them. This was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity.
The rush of waves created by an island breeze…sand squishing between your toes… the sound of seagulls overhead… Life is a Beach. Life is more than what one makes it, because no two paths are the same. Mexico enlightened my spirit as the land unraveled my mind, and let it soar free! I was unsure of what to expect of Mexico because of the many reflections I have heard about it. My first expectations of Mexico diminished as my mind became accepting of everything that was, instead of how it was said to be.
This is my reflection in regards to the experiences I shared in such a beautiful, humble environment.
Mexico not only caters to its people; it also welcomes newcomers. I don’t speak Spanish nor have I been out of the country or ever experienced the ocean. All of these new things set me far outside my comfort zone. It was then that I realized how much I was missing by lingering within the confinement of my own mind. Volunteering is something I do avidly in the states. I wanted to join ASB to help serve others and to be involved in other parts of myself I have not yet unleashed. I feel as though the plethora of people, organizations, and experiences I have encountered along my path has led me to growing as person, and defining what I should be doing as opposed to what I thought I wanted. I have never felt so welcome and cared for as I did while in Mexico. The people there taught me the importance of religion and family. While serving at Casa Franciscana in Kino, I became a part of a community and felt the faith of all those around us.
I have many mental snapshots of ASB in Mexico. Here are just a few: playing kick ball with a family in Naco; holding on to Brett for dear life in the ocean because he is a lifeguard; having a deep conversation with Vince while rolling in the waves on the water; braiding Darling and Soledad’s hair, and enjoying the company of everyone in the group when we all sat down to dinner. The snapshot that will always remind me of how important kindness is happened on Wednesday at Casa Franciscana in Guaymas. In the meson (dining hall), the ASB group and I were fed before our volunteer duties began, and as migrants and others began arriving for the noon meal. I got full from the meal of vegetable soup and crackers, and had an apple left over. I don’t like wasting food, so I offered my apple to a gentleman waiting for his meal with several others. This man and all of the others looked very tired and hungry while they watched us eat. When I gave him my apple, I thought I was being nice but this small act of kindness would teach me more about life than any other act I had ever done single handedly. I gave this man my apple in the hopes of helping one person, but instead of eating the apple himself or storing it away for later, to my astonishment he took just one bite and then passed it to the other people sitting at the table with him. This chain reaction of kindness showed me how extraordinary people are. A single person can make a difference, but when a group of people are kind to one another — that is when the world begins to change.
I loved my experience with ASB and all it offered to me. Because of this experience, I have decided that I will continue volunteering locally and in other countries during the summer.
Back to It
It has been so hard to get back into the routine of things coming back from ASB! Mexico was a great learning experience for me. I learned about many social justice issues. Of course one was the border, but there were so many more. I was very emotional throughout our journey, and at times couldn’t hold it back anymore. I saw some hard conditions, and had no idea how to react because I wanted to cry. But at the same time, I didn’t want it to seem that I thought I was better, because I am not. I met so many amazing people that are better than I could even imagine being.
I remember snapshots of the trip and the many memories I made with the people there, and with the group I was with. I will forever remember Cabaña #5 at Islandia, our home for the week. Visiting the trade school that Casa Franciscana was building was another eye opening experience. There was no procrastination. The staff had a goal, and it was to make a difference for the neighborhood right away by teaching job skills. I also realized how materialistic we are in the U.S. We value our material things. While there, I began to see that people appreciate each other’s company more. They may not have much, but they have each other. I got to experience the beauty of the beach for the first time. I got my purple Mexican dress and I jumped off the pier. We had some amazing laughs as I made a fool of myself trying to be a goalie in our soccer game. But it didn’t matter because we were having fun. I loved the church in Bahia de Kino. Although they were small, you could tell they were a family, and I loved their little music group for the beautiful songs. They were amazing. While volunteering, there was not a moment that I felt like I was working, and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Mexico was just great fun, great food, and great people. It was humbling and eye opening. I am so glad I was honored with the opportunity to have this experience with these people. Thank you to everyone who opened my eyes to things I never even thought of. I also want to thank everyone for making me feel welcome and immersing me in the culture. I will forever miss Bahio De Kino, Mexico.
When I started this journey, I asked myself 8 questions.
What will I see? I saw the joy and happiness in the faces of the 12 people I traveled with. It didn’t matter that we had been in a crowded van for 6 hrs on two-lane highway with construction. I saw the contentment in Marisa’s face when she talked about her program and the people that were helped.
I also saw happiness in myself. Water is my element, so the ocean makes me happy. Being able to be with people for the length of time that I did makes me smile, since no one knew (even me) how hard that was.
What will I touch? I was definitely spiritually touched. Seeing Ramon and his staff at the soup kitchen working (it was hot) really hard to make sure that the area was clean and the food was good. Most of the people there were volunteers and Ramon worked twice as much as he was getting paid for. This was amazing.
What will I taste? I had the best cup of coffee at Lupita’s house. My group was painting another house and we finished before the group at Lupita’s so we went over to see if we could help. Lupita was brewing coffee and she shared a cup with me. There was definitely love in that cup.
What will I hear? The sound of Maria gasping with joy at the presentation of 2 roses. She loves flowers and stated that she doesn’t get them enough.
Will I thirst? This I witnessed with Frank the Franciscan who is starting a tech school. The excitement in his eyes when he talked about how he was going to fill the thirst for knowledge in his students with skills to better their lives.
Will I hunger? I saw the need to help in Mexico, but I also saw that I need to help my own country. I saw that my country has homelessness, hunger and the need to educate. I do hunger to help.
Will there be pain? Only the music at 3am. All around me there were people with limited resources, but they seemed happy, determined to make good with what they had.
So did I find Balance? Still working on it. But I did learn that being around people is not a bad thing. Helping my fellow man is not a bad thing. I am a bit closer to the Balance, but I must remember that Buddha sat under a Bodhi Tree for a time longer that I could ever dream of before he attained enlightenment. So for me, baby steps.
We all made a difference!
This ASB experience will be unforgettable for many of us. I am sure words cannot explain enough about the involvement, the emotions, the eye openings, the social justice issues, etc., we all had during this trip. So much can happen in just a week. We all are a group of students that have set plenty of goals during our career. I feel this experience has given us motivation to continue on our journey as a student. There was so much spirit, courage, love, team work, effort and so much more.
Personally, there were many snapshots on this trip that will stay with me forever. Some were more powerful than others. I am so grateful we were able to meet “Familias Unidas” and help paint Lupita’s and Malena’s house. I am sure they saw how influential our teamwork was. This day I was able to talk to Lupita, her husband and son. Lupita’s husband made such an impact on my life. Seeing that he was in crutches made me wonder, and I asked him what had happened. As I was listening to his story, this brought many emotions back to me. He suffered from an injury as he was diving in the ocean. This was his job like many that support their families by fishing. This injury caused him to be paralyzed from this legs and he was not able to walk. It took him six years to get to where he is now using his crutches. As I was getting to know all the group that had come to this trip, I told them about a car accident I was in a year and a couple months ago. This car accident had happened in Mexico, and I had not been to Mexico or had been on a lengthy trip since then. Since I suffer from PTSD because of it, it caused a lot of anxiety. But I was not going to let my fears take advantage of me. From all the injuries I had, it took me a while to recuperate. Things just aren’t the same after a traumatic experience like that. This is why listening to Lupita’s husband’s story made me gain so much motivation. I can also say that I am grateful to be where I am at right now. It made realize even more that things can always be worse!
Even though I experienced many snapshots in this trip, this is one story I could personally say really impacted me .