"C'est parti !" - that's the easy way to express in French this moment of starting again. At 8:54, the first students with their teacher arrive at the main gate, and slowly, each guide takes a group and dive into their 45-minute explanation.
My group is composed of very smart kids and we made a deal at the beginning of the tour—that we will all try to imagine for a while that we are part of a the same family escaping a place where we feel unsafe. Stage by stage, interactions, questions, comments emerge, proving that a certain degree of confidence has been established. I was impressed by the level of interest and intelligence of these young teens, but specially one student; throughout the tour he was really paying attention to every single word I spoke, answering my questions with ingenuity. The little blond boy with blue eyes was, like the majority of the other students, communicating to me that he was really trying to imagine being in the position of a refugee.
The last part of the tour includes a cholera outbreak tent with different possible scenarios. I chose the worst scenerio to present, and the group went from being spectators to actors, coming up with the correct response—to isolate the cholera patient. Sadly, five minutes per station is very short, and as a guide I have to concentrate on key messages in order not to make the tour too long and allow every group the same amount of time.
Applause is probably the best reaction you can receive from your group, as are comments like "Luis, it's was great," or "fabulous." This makes you very happy and gives you a lot of energy. And, finally, at the end of the tour, when we talk about how long refugees or IDPs must stay in these conditions, you suddenly realize that now in the group's mind, we are not talking about numbers that they read about in the newspaper, but about human beings, and at this moment you feel like you've reached your goal!
Around 11:30, the mayor of San Diego, together with an MSF representative, made a speech about the exhibition for local reporters and photographers. This is a little different from the reality on the field—we do have photographers come to projects, but it's generally in order to get the attention of the press and the public. But the results are the same: informing people about what is going on.
At the end of the day, after I do not know how many planes I heard and saw passing overhead, forcing the guides to talk louder or stop talking for a moment, I just want to walk for a while and immerse myself in another reality. I took the opportunity to visit the San Diego Museum of Art. On the second floor, the Modigliani painting (a blue-eyed boy) reminded me of the same clever boy from this morning. Similar look, but with another message—he seemed to say, "Now, it's my turn to teach you something. Open your eyes and listen to me."