Travel Log 12: Serving

Volunteering in Barcelona was actually surprisingly similar to what I was used to in America.  As someone who has devoted a lot of time to organizations like the YMCA, I am very used to spending time with children as a source of volunteering.  I spent 4 summers at a YMCA camp, and a semester in high school at an after school program, working with young kids.  In Barcelona, I volunteered at a very similar place and I enjoyed just as I used to in America.  In Spain, a lot of parents spend late nights in the office because of the hours that businesses are open here.  When nothing opens until 10 or so in the morning, it winds up being that they work past 7 or 8 at night, long after their kids get out of school.  Not only was this helpful for the development of my Spanish, but it was also a chance for me to get further immersed in the culture.  In America, the children that I used to work with would grab me and prod me to play games with them or help them with their homework, however here in Barcelona the children are much more touchy.  As I couldn’t really help them with their homework, I essentially turned into a camp counselor again.  Back when I did service at a summer camp I was used to being dragged around and begged to play soccer, dodgeball, basketball, tag, and so on, and it was similar here; children universally love to run around.  There was this boy named Enrich that came up to me as soon as I arrived and asked me in Catalan to play futbol with him and his friends.  This short little kid who clearly doesn’t care who comes in to volunteer, but is dead set on playing the game he loves and driving the volunteers crazy with the amount of energy he had.  He looked at me with an excited look on his face and said in Catalan, “Vine a jugar a futbol!”  Who was I to say no?  It became quite clear to me at that point that I was out of league.  When you get to grow up watching Lionel Messi play soccer, you pick up a few things and if it weren’t for me being a foot taller than the next tallest kid, I would have been a human traffic cone.  Slimbach states, “The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society…to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships.”  It was an eye opening experience because for once in my life I was in a place that I never would have thought I would be.  I considered the fact that I was in Barcelona, Spain playing soccer with 10 year olds at a place similar to a Boys and Girls Club and developing relationships with these kids that I will never see again.  It has been so weird to me to realize that many of the relationships that I have made here are never going to be longer than my time here; I will forget all about these people and these children.  I definitely enjoyed my time volunteering and I would do it again if I had the time to and I will remember it for the rest of my life as the time I volunteered in Spain.

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