Global Service Scholar: Cynthia Lopez
Country: Paraguay

For the past month, I was fortunate enough to meet a group of incredible human beings. The agricultural school in Cerrito was not only an opportunity for me to practice a set of skills, but most importantly, it was a place for me to learn. One of the biggest takeaways I have learned from this trip was that life was happening for us not to us. We may not always have the answer to all of our problems, but we have the chance to alter the way we react to things.

All students were extremely kind and welcoming when I was in a moment of stress and fear. In particular, there were a set of students that have had a great impact in my life. They taught me that no matter what life throws at you, happiness and family will overcome. Throughout the month, we slowly grew from strangers, to friends, to now family and that is something I will cherish forever.

My group was in charge of improving social/emotional intelligence. We went in with the idea that we could create a club where everyone was free to say what was on their mind and not be judged. This club would create a safe space for all and that was exactly what was accomplished. Not only did these young adults communicate about stressful or exciting situations in mature ways, but they helped me do the same. I learned that life can fill you with obstacles, but anything is easy when you change the way you see it. I spoke about saddening moments in my life, and those who participated in the club made me feel as if I was not alone and reassured that as long as I take the positive outlook, I will be okay. Others talked about how unfortunate their lives are and how they still managed to wake up at 5:30am in order to accomplish their duties because to them, waking up another day is a huge blessing. They explained that each day is a different day and it is okay if one feels gloomy at some point, but one should take that emotion and transform it into motivation or at least not let another person go through the same. I was emotionally stunned at how they perceived life. Many of these kids go through hardships and they will not let that stop them. They continue spreading positivity and brighten days of those who are feeling sad.

Never in my life have I befriended such beautiful souls who are willing to drop everything in order to make sure an individual is okay. It saddens me to say goodbye to those who have opened their heart to me but as one student said, “No es Jajotopata, es Mbae’chepa”, which is translated to “It isn’t a goodbye, it is a hello friend.”I will miss them all dearly, but that feeling will only help me get to Paraguay again.