Name: Tiexi (Lily)
Hometown: Wuhan, China
Explored: Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala
About: University of Virginia Student
"We had a different mindset going to Guatemala than most tourists since we went on a volunteer trip. Twelve students, who knew nothing about one another, after spending nine days together, became best friends. By waking up everyday at 5:45 am, working hard to build gardens for different communities, and teaching the locals about the importance of nutrition, our time here was carefree and impactful. We lived on a tight budget as most of our trip expense went into the donation to Primero Pasos-- an NGO that focuses on improving the healthcare of the people in Xela. However, we found joy in the smallest things: the 1-dollar croissant with lemon buttery filling, the 3-dollar burrito that was packed with flavors, the 3-dollar quesadillas that were made with the freshest mozzarella cheese…
The food there was amazing and unforgettable, and so were the people. The women that we helped, the salsa dancer who gave us a free salsa dancing class, and the street vendors that we bought goods from, all greeted us with smiles and warmth. As a person who has been to few places around the world, this experience once again proves my belief that traveling is about how we want to cultivate our experience in a different place and enrich our perspectives in life."