PASEO Program Adventure- Day 6: Huanchaco y El Porvenir, Peru

This morning began with a class on Motivational Interviewing in Spanish. Motivational Interviewing is a style of counseling that focuses on trying to motivate clients to achieve change on their own terms. It makes sense when you think about it. If someone tells or forces you to change an existing habit, odds are, you likely won’t change. But if can attain some sort of intrinsic motivation to make a change, the outcome will be much more significant. (Keep that in mind the next time you tell a loved one they need to change an existing behavior.) 

The afternoon was spent in El Porvenir at a different school doing more observations. Many of the kids come from families whose parents are in gangs and/or commit serious crimes. Other kids come from families who have neglected them, which often times affects their behaviors in the classroom. Some of the teachers believe that this is the biggest barrier in the classroom setting, which is difficult, to say the least, because how do you make such a large systemic change in such a short amount of time? Then again, I’m sure plenty of people across the globe are asking the same question.  

One positive note is that any time a student wants to speak in front of the class, he or she has to stand up, which helps foster public speaking skills and a greater level of confidence (as uncomfortable as it is). And anytime an adult walks into the classroom, all of the students stand up to show their respect. Students are also expected to participate in school events such as plays and historical reinactments throughout the school year, which helps them learn to work alongside one another. Something that was also nice to see was a small garden, created and cared for by some of the students. Anytime you plant a seed of any kind, it’s only a matter of time before it blossoms into something worthwhile. 

While there is definitely work to be done, it’s refreshing to see small acts of kindness at a young age that will hopefully add up to help these children find a different path in life than the path that many of their family members have taken. 

Snapshot Challenge Saturday

At the beginning of the year, I set out to challenge myself each and every Saturday for the following fifty-two weeks. I wanted myself to take the time to find something beautiful, and as I did, I wanted to capture that particular moment which I was enjoying. Throughout the year, I have been following through with my Snapshot Challenge Saturday, and surprisingly enough, I haven’t missed a single week.

What I enjoyed most about this challenge is that it helped me remember to stop and appreciate my surroundings. Whether it was a beautiful tree in the backyard that I had never yet noticed, a breathtaking view from where I was standing, a stunning sunset, or an adorable moment between two animals, I have seen so many beautiful sights these past fifty-two weeks, and I am so glad to have ventured out on this worthwhile experience.

I will most definitely continue with this challenge throughout 2016 because in an age of technology and cell-phones, it is so easy to miss out on incredible moments taking place around us. I would rather immerse myself in the beauty around me as opposed to regretting not having done so at a later point in time.

And so, with this last Snapshot Challenge of 2015, there are many beautiful pictures which I could have chosen from to conclude the year. However, this challenge has helped me realize that the most precious moments are those spent with loved ones closest to us. I am beyond thankful and appreciative to have such incredible people in my life, and I cannot think of anything more beautiful.

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Day 3 In Antigua Guatemala

Our third day in Antigua was definitely our most active day yet, as we set out to hike Pacaya Volcano, situated near Guatemala City. Before giving ourselves too much credit, we were told that the hike is very exhausting due to its elevation and high altitude so it was recommended that we horseback ride up the volcano and then hike down. When we arrived to the volcano, there were horses ready for anyone wanting to ride them, so we hopped on and began our trek up the volcano.

Since the volcano is still active, it is forbidden to hike past a certain area, just in case the volcano should erupt at any given moment. A few weeks before our arrival, the volcano had a small eruption, so some of the ground we stopped at was still hot. Thanks to our tour guide who provided us with marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate, we were able to make s’mores over the hot ground.

The views from the highest part of the volcano we were able to access, as well as throughout the trek down the mountain were beautiful, to say the least. We were grateful to have such great weather during our hike, but we were even more grateful once we had lunch and dinner after what was indeed an exhausting but worthwhile hike!