Global Service Scholar: Erica Reyes
Country: Paraguay

Reflecting on my month stay in Paraguay is an emotional one, thinking back on all the amazing people and interactions we had. Getting to work with the students was an eye-opening experience because they never once complained about the work they had to do and they enjoyed doing it. Not only that, they were so open to teaching us the ropes of the field work (La Planta Lactea, La Huerta, CPA) despite us interrupting their well-balanced routine sometimes. They are wise beyond their years and that has inspired my way of thinking about the world. 

Despite coming from different countries, we were able to bond on typical things such as our interests, the way we joke around, and the stories we had to share and I will carry that with me forever. As someone who is extremely shy, these students have helped me realize that I have no reason to be shy as long as I am willing to open up a part of myself to people and then I will receive the same back. I think one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to not let the fear of the unknown stop me from doing things I want to do. What I mean by that is that I did not really know what this trip entailed even a week prior to us leaving so I was nervous when we arrived in Paraguay because I was still unsure of what we would be doing. Despite all the anxiety, I am extremely glad I went through with it because I was able to push myself and in return I got to meet incredible people, got to see the beauty of Paraguay, and I got to realize that I am a team player. Not only did I learn that, I learned that human connections have no borders and despite the age gap between the people we met and the different environments we live in there is always something in common that will bond us because we all love learning and having a good time.

Working with such an important organization with people who really took into consideration the greater good of the people in Paraguay really solidified my wanting to work with an NGO or work for a company that wants to help people. Paraguay is an incredibly sustainable country from what I saw, and I hope I could one day help build policies to reduce plastic use in the United States. One of the students I built a connection with told me about the water crisis in Paraguay and I began connecting it to the classes I have taken before and I would like to also work in improving water quality/distribution in different areas in the world. Paraguay and the work we did with the students and the team for the Education Stoplight was such a unique experience that helped me learn new things about myself, to appreciate life more, and has paved a way for what I want to do in the future. Thank you to everyone involved who made this experience possible, I will always be appreciative!