Below is a reflection written by former international volunteer and current Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Associate Board member, Courtney Gomez, about her year volunteering at NPH Guatemala.
In orientation, meetings, and activities at NPH, the philosophy of NPH-that we are all a family-is regularly discussed, but the truth is, I've heard this in other schools I have attended or jobs I have had. I distinctly remember looking around one day with my girls, watching a soccer game, and I noticed the majority of the children at NPH had gathered around the field. Some were enthusiastically cheering for their favorite tío or uncle as staff at NPH are referred to. Some were at the game but playing with the younger kids, or hanging out listening to music with their peers or biological siblings. Whichever task the pequeños chose to do, there was a great sense of familiarity and belonging amongst them all. It occurred to me this day that this really is a family, and as girls ran up to me asking when I was going to open Chicas Poderosas or if I wanted to play cards, I realized it was a family that I was so lucky to be a part of.
Now as I get ready to leave this family and home that I have become a part of, I can’t help but think about all the things I will miss. Not big moments or events, but the little things that make us a family are the things I can’t imagine my daily life without. The way the volunteers help each other through the ups and downs of being away from our own countries. The way everyone tries really hard to pronounce my strange American name. The way my girls will yell "no one more time" after playing the same card games for hours, and despite the fact that it is time for bed, how I will try to fit in one more game. The way they tease me for loosing repeatedly or laugh at me but help me when I say a word wrong. The way they paint my nails in brightly colored patterns, or the way I can walk into a section or the cafeteria and be greeted by kids yelling my name with smiles and hugs.
I am truly grateful to everyone of NPH Guatemala for letting me into their lives, for touching my heart and for impacting my life in ways I will never forget.