The part of cross-cultural that I was most nervous about was being so far away from family without any real contact with them. I should’ve known that my fear was silly. Early in our time in Guatemala Sara asked a missionary couple we were visiting, how they can be away from their family for so long, and the answer is something that will stick with me for a long time. She said that of course it’s hard to be away from them but that you make more connections and your family grows. In that simple statement she taught us that family isn’t limited to family trees and blood relations, and every home stay that I’ve experienced since then has backed up her words. I don’t really understand it, but in the last three and a half months my family has become four times bigger than it was when we left January 14. And I’m not just talking good friends – I mean honest-to-goodness family. From my free travel family hugging me and saying “Te quiero, hermana” and hearing those words echoed from my Semana Santa family in Mexico City to movie night with and reassurances that “nuestra casa es tu casa” from my mom and sisters in Guatemala City and hugs and “no llores” from my mom and brothers in Puebla, I know that we’re family.
– Amy Layman
Wow, the semester is almost over. Tomorrow we get on a plane and fly home, okay EMU, but it’s close to home. We have learned a lot, seen a lot, and talked a lot. I have grown in so many different ways because of this, some of which I still can’t explain and don’t know if I will ever be able to. One thing that will stick with me is the impacts. This is a quote of what I said one time, “There is some reason I need to be here, I might find it out or I might not, but God wants me here.” I continued to use this idea to explain many more things on this trip and why I made the choices I made along the way. There is some reason God chose us to be where we are. We may find out now or in the future with our life paths or we may have had an affect on others we met, not knowing in what ways we affected them. I have met many different people, some I know their names and others I just pass on the way. All these people, including myself, could have had some impact. I know some things I learned from the people I met will change my actions in the future: being more grateful, conserving resources, using my Spanish, sharing their stories. How did I affect them? Is it the smile I shared, the interest I had, the relationship I made. It could be all of these, but this is the side that I will have the least interaction with, the side I will most likely never see. This is okay; we are not supposed to know everything. What I learned during these three and a half months will challenge my interactions in the states. To know that what I do is bigger than myself.
– Karla Mumaw