It’s Annie’s last day today. She has been serving Common Hope over the past 10 months as an enthusiastic long-term volunteer, coordinating Vision Teams in their work building homes for our affiliated families. We want to thank Annie for all of her hard work and contributions to Common Hope. Below, she shares a bit of her experience and wisdom.
Name: Annie Lebherz
Position: Housing Program Assistant
Time at Common Hope: 10 months
Favorite Guate cuisine: Avocados
#1 Travel Essential: A good book
1. How did you come to volunteer at Common Hope?
I came to Guatemala to learn Spanish and volunteer, and I wasn’t sure how long I would stay. I fell in love with the people, the country, and Antigua, and after a few months of Spanish class, I knew that I wanted to stay for at least a year. By that point, I had made friends in Antigua, and when I started looking for an organization that would be right for me, everyone pointed me in the direction of Common Hope. I took the tour, and I was so impressed with the foundation’s mission, staff, and reputation.
2. What has surprised you most about working with Common Hope?
I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to volunteer at Common Hope, so I can’t say that the things I’ve experienced here are surprises. I will say that there were many things I didn’t know. I didn’t know how severe the economic situation is for many of our affiliated families. I didn’t know how many families were living without a concrete floor or a proper roof to keep out the rain. And I didn’t know how many people were typically living in a single room house. Lastly I didn’t know how rewarding this experience would actually be, and I didn’t know that I would make so many close friends in the project.
3. What is a new skill you have learned through living in Guatemala?
I work in construction, so now I know how to hammer and nail, construct walls out of wood and fibrolit, assemble houses, and mix and pour concrete. I have learned to work with people that are from Guatemala, and I have also learned how to work with people from the States in a country they are unfamiliar with. I have learned to instruct and lead groups of people in a construction setting and I have learned to be more flexible in the workplace, more adaptive. I have learned to enjoy snack time and the occasional siesta. Lastly I have learned how to speak Spanish (pretty much).
4. What do you want people back home to know about your experience here?
I think I would want people back home to know that volunteering in any way is a beautiful thing. The families we have built houses for are incredibly hard working and appreciative. Going to a different country and volunteering opens your eyes in ways that are absolutely impossible to describe; it is something you have to see and experience, even if only for a short time. I would also want the people back home to know that there are so many people in the world that are not born with the same opportunities as others.
5. Has anything happened during your time here that will make your life different?
Everything that has happened here will make my life different.