I can’t even believe I’ve been home for two weeks from the most amazing and out of this world trip. I was extremely lucky to be selected for this trip and I’ve been so thankful.
First off, with any trip you should do A LOT of research; but seeing as this was my first trip alone I was just so pumped! Needless to say, stepping off the plane and realizing it was winter was quite a shock! I was so happy I listened to my family and packed warm clothes for the night, you know “just in case”. Straight from the airport, we went to meet our host families; the love I felt from my host mother who spoke absolutely no English was out of this world. My roommate and I would leave the house for school and come back home to be greeted by the warmest of hugs and rapid Spanish asking how our day was. Even though I couldn’t speak Spanish the language barrier never discouraged us (with so much technology, it’s easy to fix that barrier anyways).
The country of Chile is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Any time of day or night it’s always buzzing with some type of activity. The teachers at the University of Vina Del Mar were fabulous and so patient with me that I was able to pick up and now understand some Spanish. My absolute favourite favourite favourite part of this trip was volunteering at the local children aid center. One little girl, Amara, stuck to me like glue, always asking me to use my phone to take pictures. At that moment with her, I wish I knew Spanish as a second language so that I could really understand what she was saying to me. On my last day in Chile, I went back to the Centre and there was a lady who was able to translate for me. A lot of tears were shed between Amara and me; in one month I had become so attached to that little one and to leave just like that was so heartbreaking.
Chile was the most amazing time of my life and I learnt so much especially from Amara. Since being home I have enrolled in Spanish classes and hope to become fluent…. eventually. I made amazing friends from many different parts of the world and have sent my first letter to the children centre yesterday. Thank you so much, Pearl and Ernesto, for believing that I was good enough to go on this trip. It was absolutely life-changing – I honestly came home to another person.
– Justine Mounsey