Handprints in Guatemala: Reflections from a Trip Leader

By Berlin Capalad, UBC Trip Leader, Las Arrugas, Guatemala

Our last day in Las Arrugas was spent saying goodbyes, shopping for school supplies, and finishing the last few things on the library. On this day, there were two moments that really humbled me.

At first being a Trip Leader for me was simply a position with many responsibilities to make sure that the other participants were safe and feeling great. They were probably the easiest people to work with because they were so passionate in what we were doing for the community and they knew how to take care of each other.

I didn’t know until last minute that I was going to cut the rope with the director of the school on the last day. I felt so honoured but incredibly guilty for being the one to hold those scissors with her while everyone took pictures and clapped. But at the moment where it was time to hear that “snip” I knew I wasn’t there alone. I was standing to represent the people who made it happen. The students that raised money at UBC in order for this project to happen, the participants who shovelled and mixed cement in order for it to be finished within the day, the construction workers, and any other human being who wanted and waited for this project to be finished.

At that moment, it wasn’t my experience, it was ours. And I couldn’t have been more proud to represent this team of wonderful human beings. Especially, the team who have bonded so much within the past few days and have been there for each other every step of this journey.

The other moment was when I got to leave my handprint on the wall. I was the last one, and for some reason it felt like a dramatic moment. I’ve been preparing for a trip like this since I went on my last one about five years ago, but this specific trip came from nowhere and I rushed for 2 months to get everything ready.  I was incredibly nervous, stressed and never believed I was good enough to be a leader.

However, for that specific moment, all those worries went away and I remember telling myself, despite all the doubts and stress, in the end, everything was worth it. I may have left my handprint on the wall, but Las Arrugas has a hold on my heart.


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