Written by Susan Frego, Summer 2023 Intern
But this summer, two months before I turned 60, I decided to spend 7 weeks working as an intern with Amigos for Christ because rather than consult, travel or golf - I wanted to do something “meaningful”.
Now you may be saying, “What can a 60-year-old bring to the table?” and to be quite honest, it’s a question I asked myself. I mean – I don’t speak Spanish, I am not a teacher or a nurse, and I’m a whole lot less physically active than I was at 20. So, in thinking through the “what do I offer” question, the simple answer was: MYSELF.
I decided early on that I would do whatever Amigos asked of me. If that meant I’d be cutting up fruits and vegetables for meals, changing bed linens, working in the office, or swinging a pick axe, so be it. I was going to give whatever they asked of me – 110%.
Getting off the plane in Managua, I met a group of young people from Wisconsin all wearing their JUNTOS t-shirts. As a way to make conversation, I asked a few, “how old would you think you were if you didn’t know how old you are?” For me, the answer is always 27.
And so, that first week, I worked hard alongside the team – foolishly trying to connect as a group member and peer. But the truth is – I WASN’T part of their group, and as someone at least 20 years older than their oldest person – I wasn’t a peer. And it wasn’t until the following week when I was being introduced to someone who said, “Oh, you’re the MOM!” that I realized I had a different role to play.
There is a huge difference between growing older and growing better.
EVERYONE grows older – but the trick is to grow “better” by finding opportunity in each new season of life. For me, embracing the fact that I was the older, on-site “mom” opened a whole new world of possibilities.
And now, sitting back at home with September just a few weeks away, I find myself envious of the students going back to school, because I would love to write the paper, “What I did on my summer vacation.” If I did, I might conclude that you’re never too old to dance, smiles are a universal language, God is in all things, and doing something that positively impacts people’s lives for generations to come is the BEST way to spend a summer.