An Unforgettable Week

As my time in Colombia comes to a close, I feel an immense sense of gratitude. I am beyond thankful for my experience at Hogar San Mauricio. These young children changed my view on life completely in just five days. While I was spending most of my time teaching them how to say silly words in English and how to cross the monkey bars successfully, they were teaching me something much more powerful. They taught me that no matter what happens in life, you must push forward and smile along the way. As I have mentioned before, these children come from horrible situations and to see them smile and laugh the way they do is truly inspiring.

kids 2

 

In addition, this week has made me realize how privileged I am as a person. I am lucky to have caring parents, a home, and the ability to attend The Westtown School. Everyone always says that there are bigger problems in the world, but saying this and experiencing it are two completely different things. My eyes have been forced wide open throughout this week and I couldn’t be happier with that.

kids 3

 

This is a trip that I will undoubtedly remember for the rest of my life time.

 

Philly here I come!

Julia

 

A Safe Place to Call Home.

As I described in my first post, while in Colombia I will be working a non-profit organization called Hogar San Mauricio. On Monday Juliana and I visited the organization and were given a tour along with important information to know. While walking around and trying my best to understand our guide, I couldn’t help but feel that this place was a miniature Westtown, if not more. The founders of the foundation truly thought of everything, there were more than enough beds, toys, and any necessity a child or teenager might need. They even had a room designed as a mini hair salon! This place is a home to many children and young adults, just like Westtown is to its students.

foundation 2

Most of the people who live at the foundation were sadly left there or taken away from their families due to unsafe domestic conditions. The ages ranged from infants that are only a few months old, to college bound teenagers and beyond. At the conclusion of my tour, I learned that I would be working with young children, between the ages of 3-5, for the rest of the week. Juliana and I were even given the opportunity to play with the kids before our departure. We entered a small park area, that once again seemed to be equipped with everything. The kid in me was thrilled to see numerous swings (hand-made), a set of monkey bars, a hand painted treehouse, and most importantly a ball pit.

 

foundation 4Overall, I am very excited to work with these wonderful kids. These children could have been exposed to an extremely chaotic lifestyle, but thanks to Hogar San Mauricio, they now have a safe place to call home.

 

Until next time!

Julia

 

From 118,872 meters above ground, to 180m below…

Only a day after my arrival in Bogotá, I was whisked away to the Catedral de Sal, the first wonder of Colombia. This landmark is an old salt mine that was converted into an underground cathedral within the last century. Although uneasy thoughts about traveling 180m under the surface of the earth crept into my head, I tried to keep an open mind as I followed Juliana’s family through the entrance.

cathedral 5

After a long trek through different caves and tunnels we finally made it to the grand cathedral.  As I walked into the space I immediately felt much smaller than 5, 4″.  I guessed this room to be about 50m high and at least 100m across. I was simply awestruck for awhile, not really knowing what to do with myself.  Believe it or not, people make this journey regularly, as this cathedral is not just a tourist attraction, but it is also a functioning church.Salt Cathedral 2

 

As we began our return to the surface, I could not help but feel overwhelmed by an immense feeling of gratitude. Never in my life have I seen something so strikingly beautiful. It truly seemed that every detail within the mine carried some sort of meaning, whether it was spiritual or factual. I know that this will be an experience that I will never forget.

cathedral 4

This is a photo of Juliana’s family and I, whom I am also very grateful for. They are simply the most patient translators an amateur Spanish-speaker could ask for.

That is all for now!

Julia

 

 

Who Am I and Where Am I Going?

Hello Everyone!

My name is Julia Pavlov, a senior at The Westtown School and from the small town of Royersford, Pennsylvania. On Thursday, March 9th I will embark on a lengthy and treacherous journey to a land unknown, or in other words, I will be making the five and a half hour flight to Bogotá, Colombia. After I arrive I will begin my work with a foundation named Hogar San Mauricio, where I will be working with young children. My jobs at this organization may vary from helping care for the children to teaching them basic English-speaking skills. In addition to this, I will also be observing the Colombian way of life. Unfortunately there is a massive amount of negative rhetoric surrounding this country and I really want to prove these assumptions wrong. I would hate to go on this adventure alone, so if you like, stay tuned for updates!

That’s all for now and thanks for reading!

Julia