This is it my dearest chamos.Wow.
I didn’t realize how much I would love it here in Venezuela. I didn’t realize a country, a people, a place could become so dear to me. But Mérida, Venezuela has become home. I have learned so much about the culture here, how it is so different than the culture in the US. But that doesn’t make it worse or better- just different. I’ve learned to accept different cultures and different ways of life. I’ve also learned the struggles that people here have to live with. I didn’t realize how much their struggles would affect me. Learning that it’s almost impossible to find simple things like toothpaste, toilet paper or milk because the country can’t provide it. And then seeing how the government blatantly (what does this mean?) ignores the rights of their people and their constitution.
The most impactful event that happened here was when Capriles lost to the now “President” Maduro. To see the looks on my families face. They were so hopeful that Capriles would win and bring a change to their country that is so desperately needed. But when they found out he lost, they lost so much hope. But then to look into my brother Andres’ eyes, and see how willing he is to fight for his country and his rights. How he told me with so much passion how he never wants to leave, even if it gets worse here. And then for me to think back to my home in the US and how easy it is for me to live there. How I can find 20 different kinds of toothpaste at any time and how my state is known for the amount of milk we have! My life hasn’t been perfect by any means and I’ve had to work very hard to get here. But this semester has made me so thankful for all I have. Thankful that knowing that when I vote, my vote counts. Thankful that I can voice my opinion and my government won’t threaten or hurt me. But I know I can’t just stay the same. Because before I got here, I knew the rest of the world didn’t live in as good of circumstances as me, but I didn’t really understand what it’s like to have to live there. And even now, it’s easy because I’m leaving! But I know that I have to tell people about my experiences and I have to tell people of what it was like and how blessed we are in the US.
This trip has really changed my opinion of many immigrants and people who want to come to the US. I’ve heard so many people here who dream of coming to the US. And it’s so different than what we here in the US. They just want to come to have a better life and have a chance to work. Because of this, I’m even more excited for my future. You all know that I’m getting my majors in Elementary Education and Spanish and minors in Earth Space Science and Teaching English as a Second Language. How perfect it will be to teach bilingual schools, many of which have immigrant families! I’m so excited to invest in this growing population in the US and hopefully be a help to those families.
This trip has totally been worth it, but I have worked so hard to get here. I truthfully have spent so much money, time and effort on getting here. And it’s tough when I’m here with students, many of whom haven’t spent a dime on getting here and I had to take loans out to get here. But don’t be discouraged when you look around you and doesn’t seem fair. Sometimes you just have to work a little harder to do the same things. But it’s for a reason. I know that me having to pay for this all on my own has made me think more about spending money. It’s a joke here that I’m the cheapest one, because I don’t want to waste my money. But I’ve learned how to balance, how to spend money on things that are worth it and learn how to say “no” to others. I also, have learned what it means to work hard for what you want. Even if I had the chance, I know I wouldn’t change my circumstance.
I have loved telling you all about my trip and I hope you have been inspired to explore and learn about new cultures. I hope you realize how amazing another culture can be, even if it’s different from our own. Lastly, I hope you realize that you can accomplish your goals, like studying abroad, and sometimes to accomplish them it takes hard work but also the willingness to ask for help and accept it, like accepting the Gilman!
Si se puede!