Chelsea’s Blog – I’ve Learned My Purpose (MX Intern 2012)
If I were to look back five years ago, and said I’d be spending my last summer before university in Mexico interning for a humanitarian organization, I would’ve thought it was a dream and an aspiration that was never going to happen. Ever since I was little I knew I wanted to do something with my life that was directly involved with other people. At first I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, then politics, and for a while maybe a diplomat for Canada. In September I’m going to Dalhousie University in Halifax to study International Development. Everyone has a purpose in life; over the last year I’ve learned my purpose is to give other people a purpose to their life, to give them hope, to give them dreams.
Last summer I spent 10 days in the Dominican Republic on a Hero Holiday, I am currently halfway through my internship on a Hero Holiday but this time I’m in Mexico. I’m sitting in the muggy San Diego weather thinking about the past two weeks of my life. First time on the West Coast, first time seeing, and peeing in the Pacific Ocean, and going to a new country. The night before I left for my trip one of the past interns on my Dominican trip told me not to have any expectations for Mexico, that way I could go into it with a clear head and not compare it to my past trip. I’m very happy I listened to him. I came down here completely open to the new idea of new friends and a new experience. It’s funny how fast you forget the impact these trips have on you. I’ve yet to shut up about Dominican as my close friends know, but going back into impoverished areas never gets easier.
I helped build a house for a family of four. The children were aged 15 and 5. The family spoke a Mexican dialect which made translating difficult as it’s different than Spanish. The fifteen year old son however has been going to school and speaks Spanish. Most 15 year olds are roughly in grade 10. Raoul is only in grade 6. The family was very shy, and very short. Even me standing at 5’’2 I was taller then the father. I thought translating was going to be very difficult because they for one didn’t speak English and two, were so shy I didn’t think they would open up and let us into their life. On our last day however, even just after a couple days we had this amazing bond with our family. They opened up, let us into their life, and let us give them hope. On the second day of working, I didn’t get much working done. The kids just flocked to me, so many years of babysitting really paid off I guess! I had one special friend, Yolanda. She lived next door to the family I was building. As I was playing with her and Rosalia, the little girl I was building the house for, I was listening to them talk and realized Yolanda spoke Spanish and the Mexican dialect my family spoke. She stuck to my side all week. We had a special bond with secret handshakes and jokes despite the fact we don’t even speak the same language. On the day of house dedication after we gave our family the keys I took Yolanda off to the side and gave her a sleeping bag. I have never seen such a genuine smile of love and appreciation as the look she gave me that day.
After we said our sad goodbyes to the first week participants, intern week began. We affectionately have called it, Blood, Sweat, and Tears. We spent a day cleaning up the community we built for earlier that week. After we cleaned we went back to visit our families. I hadn’t even made it halfway down the hill when Yolanda ran up to me, and as we approached the house, Paulina, the mother was holding back tears as she was so happy to see us. She mentioned earlier in the week how sad she was to see us go because she wasn’t going to have as many friends anymore. They were so proud to show us their new home. They adjusted very well after spending their days before LiveDifferent helped them in less then desirable living conditions. I’d love to go back in five years to see how they’re doing and to see how improved their life will become. Even just after a few days Paulina looked so much healthier and happier then she did the previous week when we first met here.
The other night we walked up the hill in the community and watched the sunset from on top of a water tower. One thing I’ve always loved is watching the sunset no matter where I am, and watching the lights of the city come on. On my left all of the lights came on, and sadly just a couple of miles further away on my right there were no lights at all, and then I realized it was the community we built in just days before. No electricity at all. And I thought it was a bummer when the wifi was down. It’s amazing how guilty I feel for how wonderful my life is compared to theirs. However, even though I may have more material things then they do. Material things only go so far. On these trips is where I’ve met the people who are happiest in life, with literally nothing. Yet back home people are mad at the world because they don’t have the newest video game. It’s just interesting and frustrating at times the barriers and differences between Mexico and Canada.
Tomorrow starts a new week of participants as we make the airport runs, I’m looking forward to meeting more amazing people and changing the lives of a family completely around. I’m building a house for a family of three, the son is just 20 months old and they live in a very small house. I’m going home in 11 days. I have mixed emotions about going home. I’ve made a big new family and love the life of the Mexicans, except the food. I’m too picky and like my Canadian, Westernized food. Our main translator lives across the road from us and his wife, Julia is our cook. They have a two year old son named Edwin who will for sure be a heartbreaker. There are two dogs living with us that are just like my dogs, so it’s like I’m at home. The only difference is the fact that I can wake up here every morning knowing I’m going to make a positive impact on someone’s life. That someone will be happier at the end of the day because of something I did. This is my passion and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life changing the lives of those who deserve it the most. I may be helping to give these people homes, but they don’t realize how much they are giving me in return. Words cannot describe the feeling I get from seeing the smiles on their faces.
Chelsea – LiveDifferent Hero Holiday Intern, Mexico, Summer 2012