Reflecting on El Salvador
It is my first day back in Massachusetts after an amazing week in El Salvador, and ironically I am now feeling sick from eating American food. Luckily I have a nice home and family to take care of me. However, this only reminds me of the lack of families and good homes to take care of the people of El Salvador. That’s the reason why myself and a wonderful group of Babson students and faculty decided to spend our spring break helping them.
For most of my life I have had a passion for service and have participated in many charitable events, but serving the wonderful people of El Salvador was the most rewarding experience I have ever had. It is quite different to work along side and get to know the people you are serving than to just donate money to a cause. You get to learn from the people you help, make new friends, share stories and laughter, and be inspired by their dedication to improve their lives. I experienced all of that while working in Getsemani. As said by our wonderful chaperon, Sharon Yardley, you would think that people in El Salvador have so little compared to us in the United States, but what they are able to do with their lives shows they actually have so much more in life. I believe they have so much more gratitude and appreciation for life. It is a lesson I have taken back with me to the States. I have the El Salvadorians to thank for that.
Another important thing I learned in El Salvador was the inappropriate perceptions that so called “privileged” people may have about those who live in poverty. One may assume that if you live in poverty you are not intelligent. The women we taught entrepreneurship in the impoverished area of Getsemani proved the opposite. They learn entrepreneurship from Babson only two weeks per year, and have accomplished so much with that little amount of education. They were able to learn business concepts that took us semesters to learn in only four hours. Every time we gave them academic exercises to do they blew us away with their ideas and comprehension. That being said, the correct perception is that people of all cultures, backgrounds, and income levels have amazing talents and abilities to contribute to the world; they just need to be given the opportunity. I am very proud of everything the community of Getsemani has accomplished over a short period.
The trip could not have ended on a better note. Providing teaching and physical labor were extremely fun and rewarding, but what seemed to bring that all service together was our meeting with a top business school in El Salvador, ESEN. We met with the school’s provost and leading professor in entrepreneurship to create a partnership to continue providing education to Getsemani and follow up with the classes Babson has provide. This was something the people in Getsemani asked of us. To our great joy, the school agreed to the partnership and we have already worked out a plan of action. The is the biggest impact to serve others that I have ever felt. I was so overwhelmed with what we all accomplished together that I was holding back tears when the faculty from ESEN thanked us for coming down from the United States to help their people. By the end of the trip I felt so connected to everyone and am so grateful for the friends I have made. It is an experience I will always hold on to while continuing to serve others.