“9 Days”

Today I sent a text message to a friend wishing her a happy holiday. She ended her response back with “see you in 9 days!”
I stared at the message in my hand and thought that couldn’t possibly be right. Not that I didn’t believe her, but I had to see it for myself. I grappled for the nearest calendar and counted each day slowly. In exactly nine days I would be joining a small, but amazing group of people on a flight bound for Guatemala.
People have been asking me for weeks now how I feel about this trip, but I haven’t been able to fully process an answer—even to this day. I guess in part it feels surreal. As the days have been ticking closer, I’ve been busy with school, finals, holiday plans… Of course I’ve been filing out the paper work and doing all the necessary requirements for the Guatemala trip, but for some reason I haven’t been able to fully convince myself that it was going to happen.

Until I read my friend’s response. Reality is sinking in and its exciting and terrifying all at once! My brain is producing a rapid thought process that looks something like this:

I’m going to Guatemala!
I need to pack.
I haven’t started packing anything yet!
I’m going to experience Guatemalan culture first hand!
What if I forget my passport?
What if I forget some other form of documentation?
I will see authentic Guatemalan art and meet Guatemalan artisans!
I am not a fan of hot weather. At least its January—and it apparently gets cold at night!
Flying cockroaches?
I get to work with Maya school teachers to build cultural pride through art!
No opening my mouth in the shower? I guess that means no singing in the shower either.
I get to experience everything with a group of people who inspire me.
What happens if my sneakers fall apart?
How much cash should I bring? I know they say $100 is fine, but is it really?
I’m going to Guatemala!
I’m gonna miss my cats—my furry little fluffinutters!
I get to help support an entire community through a community service project.
I will learn about Maya culture and heritage directly from Maya teachers, scholars, artists and other community members!
Art projects!
Agghhh! Packing! Too much? Too little? If only I could be like Goldilocks and intuitively know what’s just right!
I feel supported by my group leaders and my classmates.
I only speak English…
I can’t wait to go!
I’m not ready to go, I need more time!
I’m so ready to go—just as soon as I get all my stuff together!
What art materials should I bring?
Ahhhh! I’m going to Guatemala!
Will I be able to understand and relate to the Guatemalans?
What if I offend them?
I’m going to Guatemala—IN 9 DAYS!

Well, I have nine days to pack up, get my stuff together and maybe solidify my emotions (or at least make sense of them). When that happens, I’ll post again. But until then, I’ll leave you with this: The decision to make this trip was a difficult one, but experiences like this don’t come around all the time—so carpe diem! Seize the day! This is an incredible opportunity and although I don’t fully know what lies ahead, I’m fully open to it.

Sarah Ann Platt is currently a Senior studying Art Education at SUNY New Paltz. She has always enjoyed playing in the mud, so she fell naturally into her ceramics concentration. Sarah loves taking long walks through the woods, Netflix, the color blue, and a good novel with a hot cup of tea. Her favorite artists include J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Friedrich… Guess that makes her a Romantic!

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