On Tuesday, we had a cultural exchange celebration. The members of the Getsemaní community had music, a piñata for the kids and food for everyone. The band that played was called Yaskas, and they were wonderful! They played a Bolivian song and invited us all to dance, so naturally the group of Harvard students started the dancing. I was able to meet a wonderful seven-year-old girl named Nicole, who happily danced with me. She was a wonderful dancer and led me through some intricate moves, including a spin.
After dancing for a while, we took a break and headed to the playground. Nicole and I sat down on one side of the seesaw facing each other, and my coworker Grace sat on the other side with another little girl facing her. During the seesaw ride, Nicole and I had a great exchange. I tried to tell her in Spanish that we were going higher than the other side, using the word “alta,” which means “high.” She then proceeded to teach me the word for “low”—“baja.” Basically, every time we got to the top, she would say “alta,” and when we went to the bottom, she would say “baja.” When I returned the favor by saying “high” and “low” at the top and bottom, she caught on immediately. She would switch between saying “alta, baja” and “high, low,” always making sure that I was saying the words correctly with her.
Nicole and I had a chance to play again on Thursday during our community-wide soccer tournament, during which volunteers and community members combined forces. Upon sitting down in the audience for the games, I was immediately greeted by Nicole. While the adults played fútbol, the kids and I played different games, including tag and the Spanish version of “duck, duck, goose” (“patito, patito, ganzo”).
While the ride had seemed so full of fun and possibility on our trip to the community at the beginning of the week, our trip in the opposite direction on the last day was very contemplative and sad. I was personally sad about leaving the families and especially the kids behind after developing such strong bonds with them. I know that what we did during our week in the village was helpful, but it didn’t seem like nearly enough. However, during our reflections before we left, one of my group members brought out her certificate and pointed out a quotation from Romero’s poem. It reads, “We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.” That quotation best describes how we can comfort ourselves with the unfinished nature of the work we have done this week. We simply gave our time and labor as workers. Although we will not see the completed houses, we must trust that our work this week is part of a greater project and that it will be significant.
–Ruvani Fonseka (Harvard University Team)
Her team participated during the fifth week of the Lent Build.