A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
Learning to live in another country is by no means an easy task! It is even more difficult when you are accustomed to the luxuries we have in the US. I have never had to ration water, walk anywhere within a 1.5 mile radius, throw toilet tissue in the trash can, etc. Luckily I was placed in a team environment to make this transition 10 times easier. In this particular program of 50 participants, we were split up into 9 different houses. My particular house, Casa Uno, has 10 people. Before arrival I was reluctant to such a large number living in one house but it has proved to be nothing less than great. Not only do each of us contribute to making this a smoother experience for each other, we have grown into a family.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
One of the first problems we faced as a house was the fact that we had absolutely no drinking water. Each day before and after class we would have to buy 1.5 L water bottles. We saw that that was slowly but surely draining our pesos. We all decided to invest in one 20 L water jug and share it. One of the two guys in the house, Myles, carries the jug to a local store about twice a week where they replace it for us for free after that one time fee.
Learning our way around the city served to be another obstacle for our group. Fortunately, as I’ve recently learned, I am directionally gifted and can find my way home without a map. The group makes me in charge of walking us everywhere we need to go. They have gifted me with the nickname “The North Star” and I take my job very seriously.
There are various other tasks assigned to one another as well. Kianna faithfully wakes everyone up for breakfast each morning. Jaelen is the most proficient at Spanish so she translates in dire situations. Hope is from Antigua so she informs us on various tropical fruits and plants also found in the Caribbean. Norman provides us with comic relief 24/7, which is extremely necessary. Needless to say, everyone’s presence in the house is greatly appreciated.
The bond Casa Uno has formed is one of the gifts I have been most grateful for during this experience. We are all convinced that we couldn’t have been matched together more perfectly. It’s so astonishing because only a few of us knew each other prior to the trip and we were put together completely by chance. Because of this, we’ve been able to form authentic, unbiased relationships. Our entire day is typically spent together and each night we all gather in the kitchen talking and laughing for hours.
We never leave anyone behind when going somewhere, and when we are with the rest of the participants, we have a Casa Uno call to gather everyone. We are so loving and close that we sometimes get on the other participants’ nerves. When they joke about us being annoying we know its only because they wish their house had a bond like ours. I couldn’t imagine sharing this experience with anyone else!