Alumni Spotlight: Vita Benitez Thomas

Vita Benitez Thomas is a half Mexican, half British student who currently attends school in Caracas, Venezuela. She's lived most of her life in Latin America and identifies mostly as Peruvian. She's vegetarian but absolutely loves Mexican food and has a sweet tooth, dedicating a lot of time to baking. She's very interested in film and music as well as traveling, facing her fears and embarking on new adventures. She will graduate from high school next year and looks forward to taking a gap year perhaps volunteering around Latin America or teaching at as a gap teacher at a school.

Girl kissing boy in Guatemala

Why did you decide to volunteer with GLA in Guatemala?

Vita: I was very interested in pursuing a summer program in which I would be able to volunteer as well as travel to somewhere I had never been before. It was a way to have an adventure and try and escape from my comfort zone. I chose Guatemala in particular as it is within Latin America and, being half Mexican, was interested in learning more about the area.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Vita: For the volunteering part of the program what we did was go to a school for blind and deaf children and each day we worked on completing a small park/ maze area with a bench. We were divided into groups to complete the various parts of the maze, one group cleared the main area; another built the small walls and the third group made the bench. We worked as a collective team, pouring cement, digging holes, cutting metal rods, between other tasks. During our break we were able to go into the school and play games as well as get to know some of the kids attending the school.

What made this experience unique and special?

Vita: I felt that this volunteer experience was unique and special as we got to come together with a group of people we had never met before and create something beautiful for the amazing children at the school. We worked hard and had fun doing it. Meeting the kids made it all the more of a special experience; I've never met such kind, sweet and welcoming children. They were patient and tried to teach me some basics in sign language. It was an unforgettable experience.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Vita: In a personal way this experience helped me come out of y shell a lot and realize I shouldn't be afraid to sometimes take the lead. I became more comfortable in just being me and not so afraid of meeting new people. In terms of profession, this trip made me realize how important community service is for me and that in the future I would be greatly interested in taking part in more volunteer programs. I also began to realize how much I like to work with children and opened me up to a new career choice maybe in education.