Capital City Public Charter SchoolLearnServe AbroadParaguayParaguay '17

LearnServe Paraguay 2017: Staying Open-Minded (7/11)

I don’t want to write this final blog post, but I have to be open-minded about it.

After leaving the campo of Santa Rosalia, I struggled to maintain an interest in the trip. Asunción just wasn’t kicking it for me. I was mostly bored throughout the second week of the trip.

Unfortunately, I was forced to do the things I didn’t really enjoy and sometimes I just wanted to… stay in the transportation van. For example, after we left Santa Rosalia but before we headed back to Asunción, we stopped in Tobati for a hike. I had a terrible headache and wanted to go back home to Washington, DC on that day. Nothing was sparking any interest, and even worse, I had to use the bathroom which made me easily irritable.

Despite having bad experiences and being forced into participating in unwanted activities on the daily, I persevered. Some days I resisted the urge to throw on shades and take a seat, and I participated in the activities with my group. Other days, I took care of myself and threw on the shades as a sign of needing some alone time. Having to participate in group work gave me time to think about what I was doing here. A lot of people didn’t understand what was going on in my head and just assumed I was being a jerk. For example, in Santa Ana, we were planing a lesson about tooth brushing for the pre-school children with whom we were working. We designed a poster, created a skit and came up with a clever jingle to show the young children how to properly brush their teeth. Since I was not feeling well that day, I, naturally, didn’t want to participate in planning with the team. One of our trip leaders asked me to draw my feelings since I’m not comfortable sharing them verbally. That process helped somewhat and I was later able to stay engaged and work with the daycare center children to paint a mural on one wall of their building. 

There was a lot going through my head during this trip and it was difficult for me to process so many things and most of of the things on my mind were unrelated to the trip. I found out my dog was depressed without me and I couldn’t get my mind off of her and, in addition to that, I still had Santa Rosalia on my mind. I felt comfortable and connected to that community… I didn’t really communicate my feelings to others but whenever I was told to tell someone so that they could understand, I’d usually forget and if I remembered, I’d have a hard time speaking up.

Apart from work, leisure activities never failed to take my mind away from the small problems I faced. The parties we had at the hostel and the moments of fun always made me happy and now that I think about it. I enjoyed being part of this group.

Overall, this trip to Paraguay and traveling, in general, were things I had never experienced before. Throughout the experience, I have learned to suck it up and stay open-minded and to communicate my feelings in nonverbal ways. When I return to Washington, DC I will use this experience to open myself up to new experiences, environments, situations and friendships.

Jovanni R., Capital City Public Charter School

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