By Nico, Arden and Giuseppe
Most of the group went into the San Pedro community service project confused about what we would be doing. The town picked the police station as our worksite, but we had little to no idea what working there would actually look like. When we arrived, the front of the building was in pretty rough shape. There was litter all over the ground, walls were covered in holes and just about everything needed a coat of paint. Regardless, all of us got to work. One of the first jobs was sanding a railing which Arden, Sam, Olivia and Beverly worked on. They put on music while they worked which made time fly by, and before they knew it, they were working on the benches which had about five different colored layers of chipping paint on them. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was sanding and painting the walls and bricks. Though we worked hard, we also took breaks and talked to our host siblings who also came out to join us. One day while we were on our lunch break, the firefighters let us check out their truck.
Over the course of three days we were able to find the perfect balance of work and fun and the finished product was a beautiful new front to the building. From the freshly planted flowers to the newly painted bricks, the entire building had a new shine to it. With all of the impressive work the group was doing came new kinds of attention. One funny event that came with all of this attention was Gabe being pulled away from the group by a random woman and despite many denials, the photo was still taken close up of Gabeʼs face. We were approached by the local paper and news stations and people on the street stopped to stare or talk to us. People came to thank us for all that we had done. When we finished on the last day, the police stationʼs band played for us and we were given snacks to enjoy as we reflected on all that weʼd done. Still, the greatest reward was knowing that even in the years to come, after the paint chips off the benches and the flowers have wilted, the work our group did will still remain, in the hearts of the people in San Pedro.
Our next stop for community service was at a home for the elderly in San Salvador. It was the day after we said goodbye to our host families, so a few of us were still feeling a little down. But, when our coordinator, Carlos, got on the roof to sweep the trash that had collected there onto the ground below and avocados started falling from the sky, everyone got the good laugh that they needed. We were surprised to learn that our work was going to be manual labor rather than assisting the residents of the home. We had split into 3 groups: one group worked on chipping paint, one on sanding, and another worked on plastering a wall. All of this work was prep for painting which concluded our community service for the trip.
The next day we continued this work and even got to help in the kitchen. We assisted chefs and made empanadas and had a little snack afterwards. A few of us worked on staining the pews and stained glass windows as well as some seats of the church next door. It was a very tranquil, serene, and calm experience to work in a church, especially to make it appear brand new for the elderly who attended mass afterwards. We finished up our work on the third day which involved mostly painting. We were thanked by the elderly and it was very touching to see how grateful they were.
Peter, Arden and Nico gardening at the police station