“No matter who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, love can heal your wounds.” The words echoed through the Norris Family Theater as the documentary, Reparando, the story of La Limonada, played to students and faculty last Friday night.
They were words shared by Shorty, a former gang member, drug smuggler, and champion of the downtrodden in perhaps Central America’s toughest slum, La Limonada. We were priviliged to welcome Tita Evertsz, who ministers alongside Shorty in La Limonada, to campus this past weekend. Her presence was powerful. She inspired us with her story, words of encouragement, and selfless commitment to uphold her calling at Lemonade International.
Proctor’s relationship with Tita and Lemonade International began four years ago when Adam Jones and Crescent Sherwonit traveled to Guatemala for Proctor’s inaugural Summer Service trip. Since 2012, more than forty students and seven faculty members have made the journey to La Limonada to work alongside Tita and her team of dedicated teachers at Lemonade International. Students and faculty returned from their time with Tita motivated to sponsor two students, David and Cindy (picture above), at Lemonade’s Academy.
Since more than 80% of three, or four-year Proctor students spend a term abroad, we understand the value of off-campus immersion programs. We know they enhance language acquisition skills, independence, and collaboration. We know they transform lives and expand worldviews. Tita’s visit to campus this past weekend brought the off-campus experience to each of us.
During both the showing of Reparando on Friday evening and Tita’s conversation with the community about her work in La Limonada Saturday morning, we were transported to a very different world. The walls of our campus classroom were removed. We felt the struggles associated with extreme poverty, addiction, and prejudice. We cried as we saw families torn apart and rejoiced with the power of forgiveness. While many of us have not walked the alleys of La Limonada, we gained an appreciation for those who have accepted this calling on their lives.
Upon arriving in New Hampshire, Tita shared her biggest challenge: feeling deeply saddened by the gap between the opportunities she saw for students at Proctor compared to the opportunities students have in La Limonada. The privilege we have is immense. However, we cannot be ashamed of this privilege, we must use our position to affect change in the world. Consider how you are using your position to tear down the walls for others.