Jinasia Hayes is a Junior at Nyack College majoring in Business Administration. This year, she joined the Global Service-Learning Program in Southeast Mexico, in an area called Yucatan Peninsula. Here are her experiences and advice for study abroad, service and spreading the Gospel.
What was the study abroad experience like?
My experience in Southeast Mexico was one of the best adventures of my life. Although the study abroad program was short and I wished we were there longer, there was never a dull moment. There were moments on the trip that I felt humbled and filled me with a sense of peace — despite having to put in the hard work of mixing cement in the scorching sun or walking in the heat to personally deliver storage bins of vital resources to families in need. However, the lady we helped was such a blessing and an amazing cook, who always had lunch ready for us on our breaks. Also, the children we met were absolutely adorable, as we were spreading the gospel in public. The people were patient with those of us who did not speak Spanish very well. Some exciting things that I saw while being there was the beautiful sunsets and how good their Coca Cola tasted, as it is a very popular drink there. Also, an exciting part was being able to ride in go-karts to a restaurant.
In addition were the beautiful moments when we would pray over people or see how magnificent the sun looked as it set over the horizon. Along with the priceless moments were some humbling experiences I faced. When showering, the water would be absolutely freezing, or the fact of always needing your phone in your hand while in the store, with calculator ready, to make sure you knew the price. But nothing could top the fact that I had the flu for a couple of days. In that moment, I knew I wasn’t home anymore. Nonetheless, with God’s favor I was able to get medicine and feel better. Overall, my experience made me observe how people in other parts of the world live, and how God has truly blessed me as an individual.
How many people went on this trip?
I think there were 10 people in all. With the activities we did together, worshiping at night, and the opportunity to be vulnerable with one another, the trip allowed us to build long lasting, heartfelt relationships.
What did you do on the Global Service-Learning trip?
We had to make cement from scratch, which we then used to lay the foundation for a person’s house.
We packed storage bins of essential resources for families, that were filled with toiletries, food, and items for the kids. We created a few short skits to entertain the public but additionally and most importantly, we spread the gospel. We went to a local church, where we were able to experience authentic local worship and were able to engage with the people as best we could, despite the language barrier. We worshiped and were given daily devotionals at night. Also we had the opportunity to visit with entrepreneurs and got to ask them questions about their businesses and how they are able to maintain them.
What would you tell someone who is interested in going on the next Global Service-Learning trip?
I would tell them to bring medicine, in case you get sick. Since I had the flu, it was really difficult for me to fully experience the trip. Additionally, stay hydrated, and drink lots of water, as temperatures and the climate are extremely more dry and arid than the United States. Then on a personal note I would tell them to enjoy their experience instead of going with preset expectations. These expectations, when not met, can cause a person to have disappointment, and come away feeling frustrated. But the purpose of this trip is for the unexpected, what you will learn and how you will grow as a result of the new and exciting things you experience. Expect the unexpected. Lastly, be ready to gain a couple of pounds eating some good food three times a day! Yum!