Thursday, December 18, 2014
We spent our campo immersions with the remarkable people of Copeyito. During our first ten day immersion, we picked up shovels and picks to work on an aqueduct and help the community find a new water source. Though the community members were quick to thank us for our help, I felt that I received much more than I gave during this experience. We not only were welcomed into the homes of our individual host families who looked after us during our stay, but also into the homes and lives of the entire community. I will forever remember the generosity and love those in Copeyito gave us – from constantly offering us chairs to sit on to pulling together their resources and talents to make us all matching skirts to wear home.
One of my first nights in Copeyito contains a memory that shows how widespread the hospitality of the community was. Our group of students was being escorted to the home of one girl’s host family by the kids of the community. My escort was a ten-year-old girl named EliAnni. As I was walking with her, EliAnni and I talked about our surroundings – the fields, the cows, and the stars above us. Being ten, EliAnni then decided it was a good idea for us to run to the front of the group so that we could lead the way.
Thus, leading the pack, we approached a house with a light on. EliAnni then proceeded to lead me down the walk and into the home of a husband and wife who I presumed to be the couple we were visiting. The husband quickly offered me a chair, and asked if I would like one of the apples that the wife was peeling. It was as the wife handed me the offered apple that I noticed the rest of our group passing this house. Together then, EliAnni and I realized that this was actually NOT the same family we had plans to visit. With my beginning Spanish, I started to offer an apology for intruding on this couple’s home. However, before my embarrassment could reach full heights, both the man and woman waved off my apology and told me to come back again. Before I knew it, EliAnni and I were back in the group, walking to catch up.
As we finished the walk to the correct house and I finished my apple, I reflected on how bizarre the situation that had just passed really was. It is not anywhere that you can walk into the random house of a stranger and instead of being called an intruder, be offered a seat and a snack. Though I didn’t interact with that first couple again on the immersion, I will always remember how their welcome and easy openness made me feel. And it is not the only time I was shown kindness; throughout the rest of my days living in this campo, I met many other extraordinary people. This is but one example of the many people I encountered in Copeyito who were quick to accept me without even knowing my name.
Erin Dorpinghaus, Comunidad 18