By Elaina Wagenman
Hola friends and family! Site 1 Guatemala is wrapping up their very last moments in Antigua before we board our flight at 3am Thursday morning.
Debrief Week somberly began as we said farewell to our host families in San Juan del Obispo. This was a very difficult goodbye, and only the first of many as we finish off this semester. We left our town for the last time and were off to San Pedro Las Huertas, the first place we stayed in Guatemala for Orientation Week back in January.
Beginning on Monday morning we had sessions about how to transition home well, how to tell stories about our experiences, and how to integrate the lessons we’ve learned into our future. We also discussed plans and set goals, while taking advantage of our time all together as a group with some fun activities.
Each student and leader shared a personal testimony about what we have learned and how we have grown this year. As difficult as it was to put into words and articulate such a broad experience, it was wonderful to listen to our group members reflect on their perspectives and to celebrate the journey each of us has been on. Many of us learned a lot about ourselves this year through community living and through practicing vulnerability. After each sharing time, the community as a whole encouraged the person who had shared. It was truly a heart-warming time.
With debrief finished on Saturday morning, we packed up and drove to the Pacific Coast where we spent 3 days beach-bumming together at El Paredon Surf Camp. The endless black sand beaches, pool, ocean-side campfires, and hammocks helped us have the most relaxing last weekend of Outtatown. We also had surf lessons and rented boards all weekend as we all became pro surfers.
I found the beach weekend the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with our site, after being apart for many weeks this semester. Unlike weeks in San Juan del Obispo where we were spread throughout the community, we were able to eat every meal together and really revel in each other’s presence. I enjoyed celebrating this year with all the new friends I made back in September, reminiscing on all the adventures we shared, and discussing our worries and concerns about transitioning home. I felt that at the end of the weekend we were on the same page again, and better equipped to go home after our debrief sessions. It was an overall joyful time as a group that will stick with me as one of my fondest memories from this semester.
Pray for our group as we travel back to Winnipeg. Now, time for graduation weekend at CMU!