I traveled to Central America a few years ago, but at this point I have a feeling GROW 2013 will be nothing like I have previously experienced. I have many expectations about the trip, some of which I’m sure will be fulfilled, while others may not be. We all have a plan coming into this; however, even the best plans can be subject to change. I suspect ours will change as we go there and work together with our partner community. Regardless, I think my goals, as well as those of my colleagues Phil, Eliza, and Annie, are similar in that we all wish to make a positive impact on the community as well as change our own perspectives. However, our paths of development will be different from one another’s. For myself, I want to understand better the culture of the region in which we are working. Siuna is probably one of the most isolated places I will ever visit, and it’s hard to imagine how the social dynamics may differ between the U.S. and Siuna. Even with all of the knowledge and understanding that we have acquired through our contact with Juan, our previous GROW team, and just general research about the community, I feel like it is nearly impossible to comprehend beforehand what it will be like in the community and to predict what kind of experience we will have. Three weeks is a brief amount of time to spend anywhere, and not nearly enough time to be able to completely appreciate the value of a community like Siuna. That is why I want to make the most of the short time we will be spending there by learning as much about our partner community as I can.
At the same time, I want to strengthen our relationship with Siuna and our partner Salud Sin Limites by getting to know members of the community, employees of the Salud Sin Limites in Siuna and Bilwi, and maintaining contact with as many of them as we can. In addition, I think bringing back as much of the experience as we can to our chapter through our blog, media we bring back with us, and the stories we can tell. This is one of the most important parts of maintaining our chapter’s integrity which is why it is one of my highest priorities on GROW!
Finally, I want to do something that physically helps our project flourish. We are so lucky to have the project of constructing a shelter, as we can see the progress of it with our very own eyes. Besides that, we can make this project happen with our own hands. I think every one of us wants this shelter to be successful, and coming away feeling like I did something personally to help prepare it is a feeling that is invaluable to me and to my teammates as well I’m sure. This shelter is the crux of why we are coming to the community in the first place and though it may not be erected by the end of our time in Siuna, knowing that we have individually contributed to its completion means the world to me.
Only two days before we’re off!!