- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
The STEP Signature Project I completed was a service trip through BUCK-I-serv to Antigua Guatemala; through the coordination with Constru Casa, our 12-member group built 3 houses in a small town in Guatemala. We built the houses alongside the families that were going to live in the houses thus were able to build relationships among the people and our group members! We also had 2 days off to explore Guatemala we climbed a volcano and swam in a lake!
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the
world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or
two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
Before this project I would not have considered myself to be a person who ever left my comfort zone, and this trip was the complete opposite of my usual way of life in every way possible. I did not know anyone going on the trip when I signed up, and I am not the most talkative person. I am not used to long days of physical labor, I did not know very much Spanish, and I always tend to eat the same foods I am comfortable with. I believe this trip really challenged me to become more open and let me expand from my typical. Even though I did not know anyone before going on the trip I feel like I came home with 11 great new friends who have similar morals and ideals as me who I hope to keep in contact with. Even though I love my American food, I came home with a new appreciation for Latin foods, avocados and fruit. Even though I am not used to had labor I came home with bruises and scratches that remind me of the incredible work we did for the amazing families in the Guatemalan town. Even though I could not speak the best Spanish, you learn that people show their emotions in very similar ways everywhere and it is not hard to tell the people were appreciative that we were there to help. Overall I feel like this trip really allowed me to see that I can thrive and enjoy things that are outside of my comfort zone.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature
Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those
affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences
completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
One of the most important interactions I felt added to my growth on the trip, was the relationship that grew between not only my 3 fellow trip members who worked on my worksite, but the family and masons that were working with us as well. The masons on our worksite were among the kindest people I have ever met. They did not scoff at us when we had to carry 2 bricks at a time while they carry 6, or become annoyed by our lack of Spanish, instead they always with a smile explained things to us with hand signals and motions. They were extremely hard working and never complained about the heat. In fact, we played soccer with them a few of the days in town, and even after working such long hours they still whooped us!
The family we were working with was also extremely kind. Their 3 children really warmed up to us on the 3rd day and after that they wouldn’t leave our side it was a blast! They would help us chip blocks and wear our sunglasses and ask us to teach them words in English. At the end of our house building, Constru Casa had a ribbon cutting ceremony for the family and even though I could not tell all the words they were saying you could see how appreciative the family was for the help and nothing makes you feel more grateful.
The 11 other group members chosen for the trip were also a huge part of the trip being an amazing experience. I am not sure how it worked out so well, but everyone got along tremendously well and I felt as though there were not many times throughout the week where we were not all laughing. From climbing up a volcano together to swimming in Lake Atilan and exploring different towns, my group members with not only funny, but also serious and appreciative about the culture around us. Our reflections at the end of the day always put me into perspective of the things we were experiencing and people pointed out things I missed. They just made the overall trip more comfortable and enjoyable.
As I stated above I feel as though this trip really let me expand as a person. This has taught me that I do not want to just stay in my comfort zone, I want to meet more new people and experience more cultures. It has also given me the understanding of a service trip and how it feels to help those in need, and I want to continue helping people as we did here. I want to continue going on service trips to new countries. This trip has also shown me that even though the people in Guatemala live in extreme poverty, they do not act as though they do. The families are still smiling and enjoying life as anyone else and this has inspired me to live my life more positively and be less bogged down by things out of my control. I have enjoyed my time in Guatemala immensely and it will forever change me. I could not be more appreciative and grateful for the trip and I would not have been able to afford it without STEP thus I thank you very much STEP for the experience!