Youth Forward Scholarship 2018 – Volunteering Without Borders

Name: Carly Berkeland
From: Fort Mill, SC
Grade: 12
School: Nation Ford High School
Votes: 75

I have always had a passion for volunteering and helping others,
especially when it came to foreign missions. Shortly after finishing
high school a semester early, I went to Guatemala to serve a school
there with a team from the US. After spending eight days witnessing
sheer joy in the face of extreme poverty, my heart was touched in a
way it had never been before.

The pastor in Guatemala told me how wonderful I was with the kids, and
asked me to consider staying for a while as a teacher. At first I
thought, “I can’t… I have a life and a family and a job back
home,” but after praying about it and weighing my options, I
decided this was the right thing to do. I went home, quit my job,
packed my things, and said “Adios” to my loved ones.

I am currently volunteering full time (at least 40 hours a week)
teaching English as a second language at La Promesa Education
Facility in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. They use a curriculum called
Hebron, so I am responsible for teaching the lessons provided in
their workbooks as well as planning review activities and
administering exams. I never imagined I’d be a full time teacher at
age 18. Growing up I never even wanted to be a teacher, but here I am
teaching all day every day and absolutely loving it. Over my five
different classes, I teach four different levels of English.
Sometimes it gets complicated when I have one class that has students
in multiple different levels, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.
The hardest part by far, is living by myself in this land that is so
foreign to me. I miss my family and the food and living conditions
are so different here, but all my troubles fade away when I get to
work with my students. Seeing their faces light up when they
understand something fills my heart with cheer. There is nothing more
satisfying than when they succeed on an exam after weeks of work and

This experience continues to teach me new lessons every day. Not only have
I learned a good bit of Spanish, I have also learned so much about
this culture. What I have seen has taught me to always be thankful
for my life and health and everything I have. I would define “forward
looking” as acting in the present in hopes of impacting the future,
and I’d say that’s exactly what I hope to accomplish while I’m
here. If these students receive an adequate education, they will grow
up to receive great careers which may enable them to provide
sustainable lives for their families. Volunteering here has been the
greatest thing I have done in my entire life, and I am endlessly
grateful for this opportunity. My dream is that every student I teach
will continue to study hard after I am gone, so that one day they can
use their gifts to help others too.

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