Upon returning to the United States, I jumped back into a very busy schedule and did not post about my last two days of the trip and my transition back these past few weeks!
Day 14: Friday, May 9th
After eating our last meal of breakfast at the Oasis, we said goodbye and headed for the beach. It was very sad leaving and I immensely enjoyed my stay there. The staff was wonderful and I am ever grateful to everyone at the Oasis. If I ever return to El Salvador, I will definitely stay there again!
We spent the entire day at a resort on the ocean and it was very lovely! There was even monkeys and wild birds at this resort. There were four pools as well as the ocean to swim in. I made sure to go into all of the pools, but I did not swim in the ocean. The day of relaxation was very well spent and very much needed. It was a great way to end the trip and was a great in-between day before flying back home to everyday life.
Day 15: Saturday, May 10th
Saturday was spent in airports and in planes. Our flight from San Salvador to Atlanta was delayed and it was a fiasco getting to the gate for our flight to Grand Rapids. I honestly did not think that we would make it in time and would have to spend the night in Atlanta. Luckily we made it in the nick of time (with lots of running) and arrived home right on time.
Post Trip: The past few weeks
Sunday the 11th for me was filled with laundry, unpacking, and catching up on my TV shows (the season finales were that night). I jumped back into work the next day, and actually worked at both of my jobs that Monday. I have been very busy working and have only had two days off since coming home (I work seven days a week so weekends don't count as days off for me). It was good to see everyone, but I missed El Salvador. I didn't experience any strong incidents of culture shock, although on the plane from San Salvador to Atlanta, I was very confused as to where to put my toilet paper. The first few days back I felt guilty about flushing my toilet paper down the toilet, but it didn't take long for me to get back into the swing of things, United States style.
Due to my busy schedule, I haven't been able to really process everything. I went from having a very stressful end of the semester to El Salvador to having a full work schedule. I haven't been able to slow down and process anything in the past few months. Which, I believe says a lot about United States culture. Here in the States, life is so busy, stressful, and fast-paced, that we don't pause and reflect on anything. I also think it says a lot about me and who I am and what I value. I juggle work and school the best I can because I am always conscious about my future. Work gives me the money I need to accomplish my goals along with school to achieve my version of the "American" Dream ( I put quotes around American because the United States may label itself as America and its people as Americans, but there are a good handful of countries that are also in the Americas and are therefore Americans as well). I will process as I go along and it as helpful meeting with my group and reflecting together recently. Processing is well, a process, and I will have to let time be on my side.
I am so thankful that I was able to go on this trip and learn and see everything that I did. I met so many wonderful people and I will never forget the warmth I felt and the inspiration I have from their strength and solidarity. My group was amazing and I am so fortunate to have been able to experience this life-changing experience with all of them. Our lives are all taking us down different paths, but I hope that we stay in touch over the years as much as we possibly can. This trip made me glad to have chosen Grand Valley as my college, because without Grand Valley I would not have had this experience. Although I want to go to Africa and Ghana, I am glad with how things played out. I will make to Africa someday, and maybe Ghana as well. Everything worked out well and I am very happy with that. This trip reaffirmed my love of human rights, social justice, equality, humanity, and social work. I am still figuring out whether or not I want to do international social work, and this trip has given me a new perspective on that. I do know that I absolutely love to travel and am so hungry to explore the globe. I learned so much in two weeks and experienced so much. I have become more socially, globally, and environmentally conscious. I grew in these areas, as a social work student, and as a human being. I am not the same person I was on April 25th, and I think that is my greatest and most valued souvenir. That can never be taken away from me and it can't be broken or thrown away. El Salvador amazes me and inspires me as a social work student and will continue to inspire me as fighter for social justice and human rights. Wherever I go and whatever I end up doing, I will always have El Salvador in the back of my mind as an example of perseverance and solidarity, for myself and for others.