Lime, chocolate, Guatemala, travel, social impact. If I’ve had the pleasure to meet you, even if it was for a few minutes, you must know that at least one of those six words describe me well.
As a proud Guatemalan, I’m not very good when it comes to talking about myself, but I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and go for it while I share my reflections about my participation during the 10 Days of Connection. I’m hoping that if you get to the end, it will all be worth it.
I was privileged enough to be born in a household where listening, talking, questioning, caring, solving, and doing were our daily bread. We also learned that being successful means being able to adapt, pack your bags (with not too many things) and go to wherever a greater cause calls you – to share all that you have to give. I’ve been to 40 countries and have lived and worked in 6 countries so far (I’m 31 years old, in case you were wondering). I’m humbled to have tried a lot of food, heard several languages, acknowledged different religions and beliefs, observed family dynamics, danced to a thousand sounds, and experienced hundreds of feelings.
The more I learn, the more I realize how ignorant I am. Every time I realize how ignorant I am, the more I want to learn. One has to travel to learn. That journey is not always easy; one also has to learn how to travel. The good thing is traveling and learning is something everyone can do every single day.
All one needs is to engage in conversations with the willingness to learn. (My) Truth is that most of the times, we all travel around, leaving that willingness at home, and sticking labels to others every time we can. What a wonderful thing it is that those labels are non-adhesive and that initiatives like the 10 Days of Connection exist!
From May 1 to May 10th, I went on the most intense and life-changing travel of all. I travelled around Miami-Dade. I met people that roam around the world, that were born in Ayity (aka Haiti), that work hard to change the world, people trying to break stereotypes about their neighborhood, people that have made mistakes and are looking for a second chance, that don’t like to talk, that express through music, that want to openly talk about sex, that love to walk, that are scared to walk, that spend millions on a bag, that will work a million hours to pay the few hundred dollars that they owe.
I met brilliant people who are daily challenged by their bodies, people that love people that look like them, people that love food, that love sharing stories, that pay to volunteer, people looking for someone to help them, and people that can’t see the world with their eyes, people that hate chocolate, and others that don’t know where Guatemala is.
So much traveling. All in Miami-Dade. So much learning thanks to the hundreds of people willing to teach, to share, to love, to collaborate, to connect. All in Miami-Dade. But… Let’s all admit that the reason why it worked is because, for 10 days, I decided to leave my labeling machine at home.
You’re invited to do the same. Break your labeling machine! If you do, be careful! You will share, laugh and cry more. Your brain will be full of wonderful memories and there will be no more room for hate. Your heart might stop one day; it will be full of love and admiration for friends and mesmerizing places.