Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Letters From El Salvador: Final day in Huisisilapa

The next day we awoke to the realization that we were about to
encounter an extremely enthusiastic and talented group of soccer players. A game was scheduled for 9:30 am on the cancha, or field, seemingly the hottest place in the entire
community. A team of Northwest Students (and a few guest players) and a
team of Huisisilapan community members were formed, and the game began,
with many excited spectators. Numerous people, from both sides, opted not to
play, and sat, talking and mingling, in the shade next to the field.
This was preferable, as each time a player would come off the field,
both the sunburn, and sweat soaked clothing was extremely apparent.
However, by some miracle, or by the kindness on behalf of the
Huisisilapan team, the Northwest School prevailed, winning by one goal.

During the game, some of the students documented the finished
photography projects that the families had brought with them down to the
field, because we were going to leave them all behind for the community
to keep. Everyone was curious to see what others had written or drawn,
so a good time was had both on the field, and off.

The rest of the afternoon was primarily dedicated to spending a
few last hours with our families, which at this point, we had gotten to
know quite well. It was a good afternoon spent chatting, going to the
river, and appreciating, for potentially the last time we would ever be
there, our surroundings. I didn’t want to leave my family, and at 2:45,
when I told them I had to go, but didn’t want to, they simply said
“queda”, or “stay”. I wanted to take their offering, to remain, even
for just a few days longer, but obviously that wasn’t an option. We said
goodbye to the majority of our family, and headed off with one of our
new sisters for a farewell gathering on the footbridge near the school.

It was apparent that everyone, from both Northwest and
Huisisilapa, were incredibly grateful and appreciative of their
experience. It was hard to articulate exactly what was learned, what was
gained, but what came naturally was the gratitude, and the many, many
thanks given by all. “No tengo las palabras para este experiencia en
ingles, ni español. Puedo decir solo este: gracias, muchas gracias, para
todo.” (Translation: I don’t have the words for this experience in
English, or in Spanish. I can only say this: thank you, thank you so
much.) The goodbyes were long, and we left about forty minutes later
than planned. It was a great example of what was said at the beginning
of the trip. You may need to accommodate, to remain flexible in the face
of change. We had been changed by our new families, by our experiences,
and the time needed to say goodbye, and to express our thanks, was
taken. All were flexible, all were exhausted, and all were content.

And now, I sit here in the hotel lobby, after a brief dinner and
reflection, myself exhausted, emotionally drained, and excited for
tomorrow. I am so incredibly happy to be here, and as far as I know, as
are all of your children. Upon spending time with our second families,
we remember our own. You are so incredibly important in each of our
lives, and I, on behalf of everyone, thank you. We miss you all!


A senior, a traveler, an observer

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