Family volunteer abroad: Habers in Guatemala
Recently, my mom, sister, and I traveled to Guatemala to volunteer together with Cross-Cultural Solutions for one week. And although we're an incredibly close bunch, I feel like I got to see certain sides of those two (and myself), for the very first time.
It turns out, my mom speaks Spanish. I'm sure she mentioned it before, but it wasn't until I was surrounded by 150 Spanish-speaking 5-year-olds during recess that I was able to fully appreciate this. She's nearly fluent. And most critically, she spoke enough Spanish to transform a raucous, near-wrestling match into an orderly round of hokey pokey.
My younger sister Jill is an introvert (I knew that). But despite that fact, she is notably outgoing and comfortable around adults with disabilities. I think Jill learned that about herself, too. She is at ease feeding those who can't physically do so themselves. She responds with an effortless grace to any sort of scream or spill. It's incredible to see. It even inspired me (the token family extrovert) to warm up when I was feeling nervous.
Those are just two from a long list of things I learned about my family when we volunteered together in Guatemala this summer. I didn't think there was much about my mother or my sister I didn't know. But the perspective you get when volunteering abroad with your own stock is eye opening, and smile inducing.
It's a commonly held belief that you discover a lot about someone when you travel together. And your family will feel that tenfold with CCS. More than experiencing a new place, you work together in new ways to accomplish a meaningful, shared goal. The resources your siblings or parents call upon to problem solve under completely new conditions are guaranteed to impress you.
Volunteering together creates memories that will add depth to any relationship. For that period of time, you show up completely for the people you're with.
Volunteering in Guatemala gave me the opportunity, in just one week, to feel proud, impressed, inspired, and altogether closer to my mom and sister. I am grateful for that and I will keep it with me.
On a more basic level: it was just plain fun. And, don't forget that when you volunteer abroad with your family, you can take pretty great photos for the mantel (see below):
Read more stories of families who've volunteered together and find out how you can too!