StudentAug 14, 2017Campus News
By: Timothy Zero

'Welcoming Strangers' by Senior Timothy Zero

During my eight days in San Bernardino, Guatemala, we worked alongside the people of Partners in Development (PID).
'Welcoming Strangers' by Senior Timothy Zero
ISP cannot be explained nor can it have expectations, it can only be lived.

The thing was I had never heard about ISP until the day before the application was due. The only reason I found out was because a friend of mine was telling me about how he had just applied. I had no idea what I was applying for except the chance to go to another country and immerse myself in their culture. I thought that I was going to change the world in only eights days, the length of the trip. I could never have expected the people I would meet, the friends I would make and the lasting impression that would be left upon me. I could have pictured millions of things that I would see on this trip but none would compare to the actual picture in front of me.

During my eight days in San Bernardino, Guatemala, we worked alongside the people of Partners in Development (PID). The head of PID in Guatemala was a women named Abbey who we worked beside, either in the clinic or down in the village. My group of Scranton members and a young couple named Shelby and Colin were tasked with staying at the clinic to play with the kids or go down to the village to paint houses and install stoves. Families apply for their son/daughter to be sponsored through PID. A sponsor then calls and is given a photo and biography of all the kids from which they can choose. Once sponsored that monthly payment goes to the family in ways of material goods such as baby formula, books for school or other everyday necessities.

With the help of a single sponsor the family’s lives are forever changed.
From day one I was put right to work optioning to go into the village to paint houses and install stoves. An open doorway would lead into a home that contained a dirt floor with mattresses on the ground and not much else in terms of furniture. Kids were everywhere throughout the village watching the group with interested expressions. The kids swarmed my fellow workers wanting any sort of attention they could get because they wanted to meet the “strangers.”

Our translators Juan Carlos and Sergio immediately put us to work installing a stove, which, we found out, is not light task. These pieces of concrete were stacked like a puzzle on top of each other until a pipe was able to be inserted on the side and up and out the roof to let the smoke funnel outside. This stove would make cooking a simple task now, instead of having an open flame with smoke blinding the cook. I would never have expected a family to be so thankful to receive a concrete stove but I will never forget the smiles that crossed their faces upon entering their updated home.

That day, we also painted a home for man and his family. The moment we entered his compound he immediately came over to us to say thank you. He continuously asked if we needed anything, meanwhile we were supposed to be helping him. Each and every day was hot, humid and tiring but every time I wanted to stop I would look up and see this man working right alongside of us. Watching him made me realize they do this every day, and if they can work through it so could I.

It has been just about two months since my trip and it crosses my mind every day. My group of fellow Scranton students/chaperones who were mostly unfamiliar with each other is now a family. We met for the first time and, I must say, it was very awkward because we were all differed in grade levels and had never met before. I remember thinking to myself there is no way I could survive this trip with strangers. Looking back I was so foolish to think this because ISP gave me the opportunity to develop lasting friendships with students who I would never encounter on campus. Without this group I would not have survived the trip as it is not something you can do alone. It was in this group where I was able to talk about what I saw or what I experienced that day that I just couldn’t hold in. Who would’ve thought we would go from complete strangers to a family in just eight days of bugs, dirt and concrete? A quote that summarizes these experiences with my group “show me some love” – they wish to not be named.

So I went from never hearing about ISP to going on a trip that changed the way I view my life and the lives of others. It brought me closer to religion as it made me thankful for the life that my parents have given me. I am forever thankful to Barbara King and the whole Campus Ministries staff for their countless hours that helped make my trip what it was. To my group and chaperones thank you for listening to me rattle on about something and never appearing uninterested, and thank you to PID and all those that spend countless hours trying to help the families of Guatemala. I would like to conclude with a quote that came to mind recently:

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