By James Martin, SFU Trip Leader, Tecpan, Guatemala
I recently returned home after an amazing trip to Chajalajya, Tecpan, Guatemala. The trip was everything I could have imagined and so much more. It is definitely an unforgettable experience that I highly recommend. During our stay we helped complete a new kindergarten classroom that was desperately needed. But, for me, the project was not only what made this trip absolutely amazing. It was the people! Every single person I met along the way was extremely friendly, very welcoming and unique, which is why every single person made a huge impact on my experience.
The trip first starts out with a majority of the people in the group unfamiliar with each other. We had some meetings before our departure, but that isn’t enough time to really get to know someone. Well, after spending two weeks with the same people you really get to know them. The group goes through this bonding process on the trip that is simply unexplainable. You would never imagine that you could get to know someone so well or find out who they really are in just two short weeks, but you do. Every one of the participants was so caring, so considerate, and very open. They were open to the community, trying new things, new experiences, and new friendships. This last point is the one that is most important to me. I have shared so many great memories with the other trip participants that I will never forget. We all had some of the greatest moments of our lives together, although we also had some downs, but these together are what create a true friendship. I can honestly say that on my trip I made friends and that our friendship will only grow from here. I know that I now have new relationships with each of them that will last us an entire lifetime.
Not only did my fellow volunteers impact my trip, but so did the community we stayed in. When we first arrived, all the students were lined up to welcome us, as well as a huge group of adults from the community. Stepping out of the van seeing that sent chills all through my body. During our entire stay we felt very welcomed by the community. We knew that we were in a community that would do anything for us and if we were ever in trouble they would give us the shirt off their backs to help us. We even went on a tour of the community one day and some members gave us carrots to show their gratitude. A carrot may not seem like much to you, but when you are in a community like the one I stayed in you will understand how very generous that truly was.
The people that held our trip together also made it so amazing, all the people at SOS and our NGO leader. Without them the trip would not have happened. They were all so amazing and I give them credit for the success of our trip and for how smooth our trip went. Our trip had no problems and was planned perfectly. Not a single moment was wasted. They were always there to answer any of our questions leading up to the trip or even during the trip. It was them who caused my first impressions of the trip, that was that it was going to be organized, loads of fun, very educational and truly unforgettable, which it did not fall short of one little bit.
My trip was amazing and the people were equally, if not more, amazing. I would highly recommend a trip with SOS to anyone. You will never regret it nor will you ever forget it. And your new friends will always be there to remind you how awesome it really was.