Why I'm Returning to Guatemala

Author: Tim Volk
May 28, 2017

Returning to Chajul

Last year’s trip to Guatemala was pretty eye opening. As any of the other members of last year’s trip will tell you, being completely immersed in a different culture really changes your perspective. A big question that I’ve been asked is why I want to go back this year. The answer is pretty simple really—I have to.

I don’t mean, “I have to” like I’m being forced back. I want to go back; I just have extra responsibility now. As one of the returning members of this trip, I am called to help the first timers adjust to the Guatemalan culture. A big issue with international trips, especially in a less developed country, is culture shock.

People often get very uncomfortable around new and different things, especially when they are completely surrounded by it non-stop. Last year, we all experienced culture shock in different ways. The newcomers among us weren’t truly prepared for the language barrier, the driving differences, the diet etc. Now knowing all of this, I can better help the others prepare for such changes.

I also have to go back to finish the job we started last year. When we left, we had painted their church interior, but their student center was little more than a frame with dirt floors, exposed wires and rebar sticking out of the roof. There will always be more to do and more ways to serve. We will find new and interesting ways to use our time on this trip, and I will be eager to help with every scenario that comes.

Overall, there are some things that I am not looking forward to. I won’t like having to communicate through someone else. I won’t like the inability to wear shorts even when it’s hot outside and I especially won’t like eating chicken and black beans for a straight week…again. I am willing to overlook these things in order to return to Guatemala eager to serve and help others. I really didn’t have a choice whether I was returning to Guatemala or not, but sometimes that’s a good thing.


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