From: Colin Gersch, (Junior Leader, Summer Intensive 2017)

Reported on July 30, 2017, Day 8 of the Summer Intensive ‘17

As I sit on a bus listening to 3 guys attempt to harmonize while using a falsetto, I began to reflect my experience thus far in GV. It didn’t take me long to realize that it is not Guatemala of the Immersion that has changed but me. Since the beginning of my Immersion last year, I have become an entirely different person as I have learned about my place in the world and the impact that I have when I decide to make one. Last year, as a participant, I felt caught up in all the excitement, but now as I step into a leadership role I feel more connected with those around me instead. The bonds I have developed with other Junior Leaders, and Chapines (Guatemalan teens) are some of the things I value the most in life and I know they’ll last a life time. These two weeks have taught me something of the upmost importance: “the only thing I know is that I know nothing,” Socrates. During my immersion as a participant, I had my eyes opened to the worlds around me. During my 2nd immersion, now as a Junior Leader, I have had my eyes opened to what is inside me. I have learned so much about the type of person and leader that I want to be, and I know that the only opinion of me that matters is my own. In my trip thus far, I have also struggled. For me, I feel as if I am a gardener and the participants are seeds. They will grow and bloom with my help. But I have to be careful because if I try too hard, I will stunt their growths. I find myself constantly wanting to step in and give them the knowledge so they can grow, but I realize now that I only need to provide them the space to grow and develop into the leaders of tomorrow I know they’ll be.

GV is an experience like no other. I entered the program as a kid, excited to go to Guatemala to build a school, but as I ready myself to leave the program I am a strong leader who knows the privilege he has and how to use it for change. With the support of these new friends for life from the States and Guatemala, I am prepared to make a difference. I used to believe that the most important things I had to fight for were my friends and family, and that hasn’t changed.  But GV has helped me learn that I have to fight for the future – for all people not just my own.  And, with countless new friends and 2 new families, I know I have plenty of people right beside me, ready to fight with me.


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