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Simply Smiles provides bright futures for children, families, and communities. The organization partners with populations in need to create physical and emotional environments where suffering is alleviated and from which local leaders can emerge.

Simply Smiles blog

Follow our blog and read insights from Simply Smiles staff, volunteers and other individuals whose lives are affected by our work!

Choate in Oaxaca 2013: Blog #3

Timothy Nurnberger

Hello from Team 3 (Emily, Michael, Julia, and James)... the best team obviously. We spent the whole day on Tuesday in the Center of Operations helping Nicolas, Javier, and Juan build the brick wall, make/mix cement, sift sand and dirt, and bag salt. It was a lot harder than it sounds and a lot harder than we thought it would be. We all discovered our physical limits yesterday. Mixing cement especially was immensely draining, as the wet cement was really heavy and we had to bend over to shovel everything well, in the hot 90 degree sun. We all really wanted to impress Nicolas with our wall-making skills but sometimes he would just take out bricks and redo them for us. It was really impressive how skilled our maestros were at everything that they did, but then we're sure that they have a lot more experience than we do. Will and Courtney got "Cody Awards" from the staff for Nicolas asking them if they had ever laid brick before, meaning that they were pretty awesome.

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We took a lot of water breaks and actual breaks to take a walk around the Center of Operations (which was actually pretty tiring) or go to a local store to get sodas and snacks. Still, by far our favorite one was lunch. Primos Tacos are apparently famous around here for their tacos and quesadillas. We got pork and pineapple, beef, vegetable, and cheese and everything was delicious. Emily ate 9.

Before dinner, Kristen took a bunch of people to Sam’s Club (surprisingly, there are a lot of American stores in downtown Oaxaca - McDonalds, KFC, etc.) It was really exciting to explore other parts of Oaxaca. We did get some weird looks because we must have looked a little out of place. In fact, some people wanted to take pictures of us. While we were at Sam’s Club, some people stayed at the Center of Operations and learned how to play Setback.

Even though it was a lot of hard work, we think it was worth it. It was really rewarding to see how much we could get done in one day and to actually see the wall growing before our eyes. While it’s different working in the Center of Operations rather than actually going out and helping people and making connections, it’s still very important. We are helping future Simply Smiles volunteers to come and do their part here.

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Martin (Javier’s son) stayed with us, making sure we all knew how to ride a bike and helping out to wash cement containers. James talked to him about his schooling and we all wish him the very best of luck in secondary school. Hannah got a Cody Award for playing with Martin for almost two hours. Shifaa also got a Cody Award for being the first to volunteer on the last shift of the brick brigade after a long day of work.

Team Three just wants to say that “hard work helps you figure out whether or not something is ultimately worth it.” And this kind of work definitely is.