To say that I was blessed is only a fraction of how I would describe my summer. For two weeks, twenty-one classmates and I voyaged to the small city of Antigua, Guatemala, for a service trip and cultural immersion experience.
I resided in a homestay with four other girls. In the morning I taught two groups of first graders. The children I taught, who were all warm-hearted and had extravagantly vibrant personalities of their own, I will always cherish them in my heart. Later in the day, I went to Spanish school to strengthen my skills in the language and immerse myself in the Guatemalan culture. Then at night, the whole group went back to the Spanish school for activities centered around the Guatemalan culture. Finally, on the weekends, our group explored the black sand beaches of Montericco, cleaned and repainted a small city of volcanic ashes for the Corps Cristi festival, went to a Jade Factory, played soccer in a stadium, swam in Lake Atitlan, has a blast at a small waterpark and many more fun activities! I fell in love with the whole experience and all the people I met along the way.
One moment that’ll always hold dear to me was walking home with one my students, Otto, with a bag full of heavy supplies to bring to his home as a gift at the end of our service. He spoke to me all about his hopes and dreams of becoming a police officer and making enough money to buy a motorcycle to drive his mom to work every day. He will always have a special place in my heart. I also learned to bond with my classmates along the way l. We got to know each other in ways that were closer than anything I could imagine. It was safe to say that two weeks wasn’t enough time to really take everything in but I was grateful for everything I had seen and experienced on this trip.
A couple weeks after this amazing experience, I had attended a six week intensive paid internship at a biology lab at Boston University, through an all-female STEM program called GROW. My lab, under my mentors James Huth and Chris Thomas, and Professor Cynthia Bradham studying the embryonic development of sea urchins. I know, it sounds like a lot, but trust me it was amazing! Not only did I get to work in a lab with real instruments and actual sea urchins, but I also got to meet such amazing people along the way! We got to visit the BU medical school and hear from professors and admission reps about the college experience. Most importantly, the group of girls throughout this whole program still remain my dear friends. We got to laugh, stress and learn from each other, as we all took apart in different fields of STEM. The weeks of working in a lab and doing amazing experiments was another memory I’ll never forget.
To all the students out there, take advantage of all the opportunities you’re interested in! Whether it be out of the country, the state or even out of the city! You will be bound to meet amazing people, experience wonderful things and expand your mind to new sources of knowledge, but, you’ll also find a new sense of self.