Cada vez que me he ido a Guatemala o El Salvador o Nicaragua, o incluso Los Estados Unidos, veo las corazoñes de los niños en todos las cosas que hacen.
I have left my home to travel abroad in Central America a total of seven times. Once to El Salvador, once to Nicaragua, and five times to the place I consider my other home where my heart truly flourishes, Guatemala. And each time I have left, I recognize one defining characteristic in all the children I meet. We may all come from different cultures, but we all have the same heart that wants to play and laugh and simply find joy.
I have spent a significant amount of time while abroad serving as a very crude translator so that my friends from my own high school could become friends with kids from these nations. I would help initiate conversations and get basic names and facts across, but I started to see after doing this for a number of years that in the end, that communication was really only vital not for friendship, but for making both groups more comfortable with each other. Once they reached an appropriate level of comfortability, they no longer needed me. They would run off and play soccer or we would teach them to play basketball or football. One of the favorite games to play goes like this: get two gringos to go to opposite sides of the room; one raises their hand and yells “REAL”, seconds later the other calls and yells “BARCE”. A fight will soon ensue as to which Spanish team truly is supreme, followed by the debate of Ronaldo versus Messi. This has happened every time without fail.
We all love to joke and talk mess and run around and have fun. No borders or languages or cultures really separate that.
Or at least that is what I have found.
More research to come.
Usually, PLC meetings consist of all one hundred or so of us eating dinner together in the caf and then adjourning up to Davenports for our weekly meeting where we listen to a speaker or hear about opportunities on campus. But the Davis Scholar week was different.
Instead of Davenports, we headed over to Jim Thorpe, and no one really knew what tonight was about except that we were meeting kids who were studying abroad at OU, a concept that was a little flipped in our minds, because who would want to come to the middle of Oklahoma for a study abroad when the whole world is waiting out there. Either way, we weren’t sure what to expect.
Foreign exchange students always strike me as so brave and courageous for leaving the homes they have always known and coming to a place completely strange to them. Forgoing their culture and their families for a higher education, and a stout education of a far off place and culture to whom they are strangers.
That was the night my Burr group, Son of Faith and Hope, met Sonom, a student from Nepal. Sonom is a kind man who is humble and full of humor. We later played a trivia game at our Christmas party involving information about the whole world and the vast cultures within it. Sonom was by far the most knowledgable in this subject, no matter the continent or country in question. I believe students who have experiences abroad gain both wisdom and knowledge that can aid them in all of life’s journeys.
My friends and I were just sitting in the President’s Leadership Class Office between classes with not a lot to do when someone came running in with a snack in their hand. A tasty little piece of baklava, a dish I knew to be traditionally Mediterranean. Now although we have many diverse bakeries in the states, to get traditional baklava can be a treat and I was curious to see where it had come from.
Excited at the prospect of free food, we all merrily skipped out of the office, walking quickly through the fall air, past the Bizzell Memorial Library and onto the south oval, where music could be heard through the wind. The music had a distinct flavor to it, not the general hype tunes that Soonerthon or Relay for Life might play to get people attracted to whatever they were auctioning off. No, this music was much more real and alive, and was most definitely from far away.
With our eyes pealed, searching for treats, I started to take in the tables around me, filled with posters and people, all representing different nations from the Middle East, a culture that was rather foreign to me considering my upbringing in a private school in the middle of Oklahoma. All the sights and sounds echoed in my mind after we had gotten our baclava and skipped back on our merry way to the PLC office.
All the people at the fair were so proud of their heritage and where they had come from and what they were now accomplishing. It made me wonder, what kind of heritage do I pass on and what does my culture really mean to me, outside of just the place I call home.
Considering my end goal of life (besides being a disney princess) is to work globally practicing medicine with Doctors Without Borders, simply the name of this organization attracted my instantly. A group who seeks to travel and serve and love all nations are the world supports everything I believe in.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus charges the disciples with His final words on earth before returning to be with the Father in heaven, telling them, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” From His last command to the disciples, it is clear that God’s intent is to have His message of salvation delivered to all nations and all people who need the Word of truth.
There are countries across the world where no outsiders are allowed in, especially Christians. However, these isolated people are in desperate enough need for medical care that they will allow doctors in to serve their people who are struggling to survive. This is where groups like Sooners Without Border would come in and help. Seeking to serve the downtrodden and hurting.
Long chats around warm fires, eating more s’mores than was healthy.