“The time I spent in Coronel Bogado, surrounded by the most wonderful and giving human beings, was life-changing in every sense of the word. Every interaction, every person I met, every conversation I had, changed me for the better. It opened my eyes and opened my heart to the humanity that tethers and ties us all together. And yet, as I sit here and try to put it into words, I am still struggling to wrap my head around it all, still trying to process everything.
I know I’ve changed. I see it reflected in the eyes of my family. I see it on my co-workers faces when I try to describe my trip. I hear it in the voices of my friends when they try to formulate a reply to my statement “I’m not the same girl I was when I left.”.
And I know that this change is a good thing. It’s as if a long-dormant piece of my soul has come alive and now it stubbornly refuses to go back to sleep. Thank goodness for that.
I haven’t yet fully adjusted back to my day-to-day life here in California. And I am beyond grateful for that, for the struggle I go through. If it were easy for me to come back, then I would have missed the point of the trip. If it were easy for me to come back, then I would be throwing away all the growth and change I went through.
The 8 days I spent in Coronel Bogado allowed me to shed the masks I don every day, to break down the walls I built around my heart and my soul. The 8 days I spent in Coronel Bogado allowed me to live my truth, allowed me to be my most authentic and genuine self.
I got to embrace sides of me I haven’t been able to before. I got to embrace the mentor, the teacher, the friend, the coach, and the child in me. I got to embrace my vulnerable side, my emotional side. But above all, I got to embrace my own personal goals and dreams, my passions I have long ignored or thought too crazy to pursue.
Being surrounded by people who were so happy just to be alive…itwas grounding. Formative. Eye opening. They weren’t worried about society’s expectations, or what their parent’s would think. They were out there living their truth, unapologetically. And because of that, they inspired me. They inspired me to embrace my truth.
My truth is that I am a writer. I am a writer who dreams of one day writing a TV show, or a movie, or a book, that captures the human experience. That makes someone out there in this big, wide, beautiful world feel seen and heard.I have the courage, the bravery, to chase my dreams because of my experience in Coronel Bogado.
I still don’t quite understand what happened to me. It’s as if I’d been sleep-walking, merely drifting through life and existing before I boarded the plane for Paraguay. But somehow, over the course of those 8 days, I woke up. I became grounded and rooted in my truth. I became the most authentic version of myself. And thankfully, I have been able to bring her back with me.
I now see the world with different of eyes. I now walk through this world with different shoes. I now live each day completely different than I did before. I hug my family tighter, never the first to let go. I find the beauty in the frustration. I watch the sunrise. I dance in the rain. I go to bed each night thankful to have lived another day in this wonderfully imperfect world. I wake up each morning filled to the brim with a fire and a passion to leave this world better than I found it. I now live my truth. And it’s truly a gift I will never be able to repay.
There’s a saying that is accepted and repeated by the alumni of Notre Dame. “If you’ve been there, no explanation is necessary. If you haven’t, no explanation will suffice.” While I can’t deny that about Notre Dame, I feel the need to borrow it.
For those who went on this trip, who traveled to Paraguay and had their lives changed every day, no explanation is necessary. For those who did not, who stayed home and remained entrenched in the superfluous and materialistic society we hail from, no explanation will suffice. ~
Lexi Nicholas is one of our GSW Lead Ambassadors who traveled with us to Paraguay in 2018 and serves on our Board of Directors.