Emily in the Youth Development Project
“For me, the best moments were the evenings spent together with the children, singing, dancing, cooking and eating together. I think for the children, these are also very nice memories. We grew together like a little family, and even though those evenings eventually became the norm, I really enjoyed every one of them.”
Emily took the big step and traveled to Colombia with WanderWorld Travel in September 2021. There she supported the children’s aid project on Tierra Bomba, an island near Cartagena, for a month. Find out here what she learned from her time abroad and what fascinated her most about the culture of Colombia.
To prepare for my trip, I looked at WanderWorld’s packing list and added a few personal items myself. Little by little, I tried to check off the list. In the old-fashioned way, I bought a guidebook and read through it at every opportunity, finding out more and more about Colombia and Guatemala. I also read various blogs on the internet, as well as the testimonials of past participants, to get a few more tips about the trip.
MY FIRST DAYS
In Colombia everything was new, but at the same time so exciting. I hardly had time to be afraid of the unfamiliar environment or to feel uncomfortable, because I met the other participants directly and we were thus allowed to get to know everything as a group. Even if you are a bit overwhelmed at the beginning and don’t know what to do with the new impressions and the so different culture, it only takes one or two days until you have settled in.
ONE DAY IN THE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
I held workshops with the children almost every day and accordingly prepared the workshops on the other days. For example, we bought utensils and planned what we wanted to teach the children. When there were no workshops, we all played together with the children, read or learned other things. At meal times, we cooked together and ate afterwards. We also spent time with the children outside of work hours and went to the beach, for example, or spent the evenings in the common rooms.
MY FREE TIME
In my free time I explored the surrounding area. Some days I just stayed on the beach nearby, sometimes I walked a little further. We also often took day trips to Cartagena, there was always something to see and you could try out one of the many restaurants. On the weekends, or when I had a few days off, we explored the Caribbean coast of Colombia.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
My experience with the culture was more than positive. The openness, generosity and cheerfulness of the Latin American population really inspired me. This was already noticeable in the children and also in the project staff or simply people you met on the street who gave you their biggest smile. These people never lose their laughter, no matter how little they have. Since on Tierra Bomba rather low-income families live, who often do not even have money for the bare necessities, they showed me what joy of life means and how unimportant it is what or how much you own.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
For me, the best moments were the evenings spent together with the children, singing, dancing, cooking and eating together. I think they are also very nice memories for the children. We grew together like a little family and even though these evenings became normal at some point, I enjoyed every single one of them very much.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE JOURNEY
I gained a whole new perspective and learned to appreciate the simple things. I also saw how easy it is to get by with little and how privileged I am at home. I will never again take things for granted that I didn’t even question before.
THAT’S WHY I LOVE LATIN AMERICA
The people, the lifestyle, the nature. Most of all, the positive attitude to life of the inhabitants of Latin America. Sometimes they have existential problems, but they always remain optimistic and are there for each other. No matter how little one has, they are always helpful to those who have even less. I hope I was able to gain a bit of this wonderful nature.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
I can only advise everyone to embark on such a journey. It’s worth getting out of your comfort zone and daring to do something. The unknown, which may frighten you at first, eventually becomes part of everyday life and then you no longer want to miss it. Every country has so much to offer in its own way and it can just cast a spell over you. You will not regret it.