After the chaos yesterday of hitting the ground running, today the group was ready to dive into the heart of our work. We experienced the trials and tribulations of our first sit down interviews (a school is noisy, the Yucatan sun in BRIGHT, and mainly how to get used to using a translator and still connecting to our interviewees). We learned a lot throughout the day and improved greatly with each interview.
Personally, I learned a lot about channeling the emotions and stress from yesterday and think I got better at backing off. I’ve learned it’s important when working with your peers to know when to push and when to walk away. This is definitely going to be a main area for me for improvement over the next week.
From a cultural standpoint, we all experienced an eye-opening look into the world of Cacalchen, the village that houses Academia Natanael [This is the new name for the center that we worked out with our client today!]. In pairs we each walked a different student from the center home to see where they lived and to meet the families.
The living conditions were shocking to us. Many of the houses were made from concrete cinder blocks and thatched roofs. The homes lacked running water, furniture, roofs, and kitchens. Most families lived, cooked, slept and ate all in one room. The majority of people sleep in hammocks and use backyard fire pits for cooking.
Despite the conditions, the generosity of everyone we met was astounding. People were so quick to share their stories and the little they had with us. Patricio, the young boy we walked home, was very shy but sweet. I don’t think I will ever forget the experience of seeing where this bright, friendly child lived. Academia Natanael is providing hope to these kids for a better future, something they most definitely deserve!