Today was our last day at the orphanage and it's amazing how close and attached we got to the kids of the orphanage in just 3 days of spending time with them. They are just so excited to show you everything and to hug you and hold your hand. At one time, I had about 10 kids all wanting to hold my hand and take me in different directions to show me things. Despite all of us having big "posses" that typically followed us around, there was always 2-3 kids that each of us got to know the most and came to love the most. I got to know 2 little girls the most. They were 3 and 8 years old. The 8 year old I got to know right away the first day. She was incredibly sweet and a little shy, so I think she liked that I spoke a little softer and wanted to spend time with her one on one. She really liked when it was just us and got a little competitive and worried when other kids came around to play. I managed to give her a big hug right before we had to leave. I met the 3 year old the first day, but really became attached to her the second day when all she wanted to do was sit on my lap and give me high fives and play with my hands. I didn't realize how much she loved me until today when she came running straight to me and gave me a giant hug when I picked her up. She did this twice today. It was quite possibly the greatest feeling ever and I truly hope that meeting me made her as happy as meeting her has made me.

Towards the end of our time at the orphanage we walked over to the high school for local kids that is part of the orphanage grounds. We met a group of kids there who at first seemed skeptical and almost hostile at our presence. We personally think that this is because they think we look down on them. I understand because I wonder how we would feel if a charity came to do a service project for us and WE were the service project. However, none us look down on them and all we want to do is get to know them. After a lot of smiles and some clumsy Spanish, they realized this. They became excited to talk to us and even showed us how well they know English (which is really well). We talked to some really nice kids and realized we're not so different from each other. They know the same songs and talk in the same way, even if it's in a different language. I'm so glad we got this experience and got to show them that we're not so bad for Americans.

Leaving the orphanage was an incredibly sad experience. I didn't want to leave and I really wish I could go back tomorrow and help more. After seeing the kids all you want to do is help them more and after meeting so many nice people of this country you want to do whatever you can to help. Being able to see things in person solidifies a feeling in you to want to help. Pictures and people telling you things can only convey a message so well, but seeing true orphans and seeing neighborhoods suffering in poverty truly makes you feel the strongest emotions. I have taken away from my time at the orphanage and the schools a stronger passion to help and a stronger desire to push my Interact club to do more. I will also come back with a different perspective on my own lifestyle, but also a better understanding of what it's like in a 3rd world country where people struggle just to get the basic necessities to stay alive. I will never forget Juan, Carlos, Fatima, Abigail, Toni, or anyone else I met during my time with them. Hopefully next year I will see them again.

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