Monday, March 28, 2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Wow. It has literally been months since I last posted. Sorry about that for all of you who are clinging to the edge of your seat, waiting with anticipation to hear what is happening in my life :)

Anyway, I can't really believe that this semester is already coming to an end. It seems like it was just a week ago when Charlotte welcomed us back from Winter Break with three snow days! As a native Floridian, I never actually thought I would have a snow day, so you can imagine my excitement as we went sledding down the hills in front of our Student Union. Good times, good times.

That was way back in the middle of January. Now fast forward through some classes, a round or two of midterms, lots of laughs, a FABULOUS Levine Scholarship weekend for the class of 2015, a few loads of laundry, some intramural softball games, and a ton of happiness to Spring Break 2011.

All along I had planned on going back to Florida for break. Afterall, I hadn't been home for almost two months, and for a girl who tends to get a little homesick, I was really missing my family. It was about three weeks before break, though, when my friend, Jordan, told me about this new club on campus called Students Helping Honduras. Basically, it's this amazing organization located on college campuses throughout the country that raises money to build orphanages and schools in Honduras. Naturally, as a future teacher and someone who absolutely LOVES kids, I wanted to go and volunteer there. It just so happened that there was a service trip for college students during the exact dates of break, beginning one day after classes let out and ending one day before those classes resumed.

I normally take a good while to make big decisions, but, given the short time frame, I had to decide pretty quickly. I had never been out of the country so I had to hurry and get all the needed vaccinations, apply for my passport, make sure everything else was in order, and mentally prepare myself for the "adventure."

Those eight days were some of the best of my entire life. It was such an eye-opening experience, and even though I will attempt to describe it a bit, I know I will not do it justice. Over that week, I was able to visit an orphanage that had a total of 3 staff members "caring" for 150 children, all under the age of 13. It's hard to imagine something like that; sometimes thinking back to it, I still can't believe that a place like that existed. What was the most amazing thing of all, though, was the fact that every single one of those children wore the biggest, brightest smiles on their faces the entire time we were there, giving us hugs and pictures they had drawn for us. When we left that day, I realized that the work we would be doing the rest of the week would be even more wonderful than I originally thought.

Our mission for the week was to start work on another orphanage. This new orphanage, which will eventually house 24 children from the state orphanage that we visited, was located in a tiny village called Villa Soleada. Comprised of 44 families, this place is one of the most magical, loving places in the entire world. There are about 250 children in the village who, when our bus drove up, ran to the doors and jumped into our arms immediately. Again, I don't think I've ever seen such happy children.

There were about 40 college students from different campuses across the country, who, for those eight days, worked long hours laying the foundation and building the walls of an orphanage. I was lucky enough to be given the additional opportunity to work in the Education Center in the mornings, helping the school-age children with their vowels and the younger kids with their fine motor skills. What a cool experience!! In the afternoons the entire village would come outside to play soccer in the middle of a huge field.

These few details don't even begin to describe my experience there, but for those of you who have taken the time to read through this long blog, I hope that you now have a little glimpse of an amazing country and the difference that a few college students can make. I bring up this trip in about every conversation that I have, so if you ever talk to me in person, be prepared for countless stories and hundreds of pictures. In the meantime, here are a few that were taken during that time.

Talk to you all soon! Oh, and I'm not sure that I mentioned this before, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE inspirational/motivational/changing-the-world quotes. It's becoming an obsession. So I suppose I should leave you with one to think about until I blog again: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead

Amigas siempre :)
Teaching the kids how to play UNO!!
Working in the Education Center, built by SHH, with the little kids. It definitely made me realize that I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to be a teacher!
Picture this without the dirt already filled in and you have a pretty good idea of what the orphanage looked like on day one.
And this is a view from a nearby tree on the last day of work :)

We took some of the kids to the beach on the last day. For most of them it was their first time seeing the ocean!

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