Welcoming the New Year is like pressing the reset button. A majority of us make New Year’s resolutions to grow and move on from 2018. As for me, my New Year’s resolution was to live in each moment and not take the small things for granted.

To start 2019, I had the opportunity to travel back to my home country, El Salvador, and learn more about my culture from a different and more personal perspective. For those who aren’t familiar with the country, El Salvador is a small country in Central America, similar to the size of the state of Massachusetts. I didn’t know what to expect from my visit, since El Salvador is commonly characterized as a very dangerous country. Arriving in San Salvador, I was suddenly hit with the chaos of the large crowds of people waiting for arrivals and the large carousels of luggage being brought into the airport. As I met up with old family members, I began to feel the difference in the environment and knew that, from having to adjust to an entirely new country to having to speak an entirely different language, I was in for a new experience.

Leading up to the trip, I would often hear about the prevalence of violence in El Salvador, but when I arrived and observed the people and how they interacted with each other, it was the complete opposite. Waking up the next day, I was greeted with roosters crowing, dogs barking, and birds chirping at the crack of dawn. I was greeted with peace, instead.

One particular place I learned about last year in AP Spanish Language and Culture was the Ruins of Tazumal, a historical place discovered by archaeologists where pre-Columbian, Maya civilizations existed. This was one of the various locations I visited that allowed me to become more knowledgeable of my culture and have the opportunity to physically see the place I was reading in my textbook not too long ago.

This site was only a small portion of what I would remember when reflecting on my trip. Another significant part of my time in El Salvador was being able to interact with local people from the city I was staying in. Everyone I met was unique and had different stories they enjoyed sharing from growing up selling with their relatives in the market to the adventures they had during festivities.

One attribute that was unique was the initiative and dedication young individuals displayed to surpass living in rough conditions and having to travel miles and miles from home to school, in pursuit of better opportunities. Being able to listen to just one of the hundreds of stories each individual has to offer gave me insight to how I could relate to being in their position and having to go through their struggles.

My trip to El Salvador was unforgettable, in spite of having highs and lows, I am not only grateful to have had the option to visit family members I hadn’t seen in years, old and new, and share unforgettable moments, I was lucky enough to experience my proper culture and what its generous people have to offer. From visiting historical sites, climbing volcanoes, meeting new people, to adapting to a whole new atmosphere, I definitely could say this trip is one for the books! Living life and not being afraid of the un- expected is what fascinates me and what creates that adrenaline to expand my traveling to new countries and explore what their new cultures

have to offer. Being able to attend MHS for four years, its diversity has really opened up to me the different ethnicities and cultures each students background is composed from, which from my perspective is worth exploring and becoming knowledgeable about.

As we welcome 2019 and the month of February, we begin to look back at all of the memories 2018 brought us, but we must remember that 2018 is in the past. Instead look forward, at the future, and see what it holds for you. For some, it’s getting that perfect score on a test, trying to beat your personal record, hitting that high note, but as a collective whole, we should strive towards self growth.

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