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Guatemala

Veronica Palladino

Organization: San Lucas Mission
Dates: 4-Jan-08 - 18-Jun-08

In Veronica's own words

How I contributed: I built relationships with community members and organization members, I built a lot of stoves and did prep work for a lot of saplings to be planted under their reforestation program, I ran orientations and translations for groups visiting the mission, etc. I did A LOT of different things that were meaningful, the biggest one being the relationships I built.

What I felt most challenged by: I had a lot of doubts about my ability to contribute when I initially arrived, being so young and inexperienced, but I turned out to be a very valuable member of an excellent group of people working with the organization.

What I enjoyed most: The part of my international experience that I most enjoyed was creating relationships with the people I met. I had many conversations and experiences that have shaped the entire rest of my life- from learning how to make tortillas, to smashing eggs filled with glitter on each other during lent, to shared mealtimes and work. I laughed a lot in those six months with Guatemalan friends and American volunteer friends, of all ages. More importantly, these friendships helped me to grow in language and cultural abilities and taught me an incredible amount about myself, my capabilities, my priorities, and my ideals.

Would I recommend this experience: This experience forces you to create your own program. It gives you concrete skills in both physical development work and language and cultural relations. It has been in existence for a considerable amount of time and gives you real experience and insight into what it takes to run a development organization that attempts to allow community members to take the lead. I made incredible friends and some of my most important life experiences happened in the six months I spent in San Lucas. I recommend it to anyone who will take it seriously, anyone who realizes the value of building relationships on the ground, and anyone who is willing to jump into the work available.

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