The beautiful country of Guatemala had much to offer: warm weather, magnificent views, and succulent food. What I enjoyed most about Guatemala however, were the people and their kindness towards outsiders. Almost all of my encounters with Guatemalans were warm and welcoming. They acknowledged that I was a foreigner and took an interest in learning why I was there. I have learned to be more grateful for people with a welcoming personality and to take my own experiences into consideration when interacting with immigrants in the United States. I now wish to model their examples as I begin volunteering more with my local Latino community here in the United States.
Being back in America has created an unusual feeling of disorientation. It was almost as if the moment I began to feel comfortable in another country, I was on my flight back home. Reflecting on my time in Guatemala has made me appreciate all of the opportunities and privileges that I have available to me here, especially my university and campus resources. On campus, there are more than 6,000 faculty and staff members of various fields with knowledge and expertise to share with us students if we seek them out. I have been convicted with the thought that I have taken for granted my privilege to be a student at NC State University. In order to take what I have learned from my internship and experience in Guatemala, I am challenged to become more involved in a NC State founded organization called VOLAR, which provides needed services such as tutoring and clinical care.
I now cherish my time spent in Guatemala because it has taught me how to be more independent and has challenged my views about immigration law. Personally hearing the stories of ethnic discrimination forced me to confront the issue. I am now challenged to be proactive in advocating for the rights of Latino Americans and those who desire to have a better life and pursue a good education in the United States. I understand there are many complexities surrounding immigration, but I would like to help others have a more holistic understanding of Guatemalans’ side of the story. In a nut shell, that was why I was ultimately there this summer: to seek out and understand their ideas and beliefs in order to better promote social justice globally.