Reagan Jackson, GV Program Manager, Writes to the GV community Describing the 2011 Spring Trip Thus Far.
Dear Parents/Guardians and GV Supporters,
We arrived in Guatemala and went directly from the airport to the Guatemala City Dump—the largest and most toxic in Central America. For experienced GV staff like Chris Fontana, Mario Flores, Aurelio Hernandez , and Noah Ziechner, it is astounding and distressing how much the canyon has filled over the course of the seven years that GV has been visiting.
When describing the experience in a group journal, one of the participants wrote, “Like a good friend of mine said, ‘life is nothing without a journey’. Speaking of a journey, when we got to Guatemala, the first thing we did was stop at the cemetary to walk through and see the dump. We had to walk in silence and just watch everything. When I saw tons of people down in the dump I truly appreciated what I have back home. It’s hard to see people that don’t live like we do in the US. It’s hard for me to know that I take so much for granted.”
Another participant wrote, “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so powerless and so powerful at the same time. My heart and soul wept for what has happened, however my spirit is empowered to make a change, even from a place as far away at the United States.”
GV participants met their home stay families upon their arrival to the GV headquarters in San Miguel Escobar, Guatemala and spent the day getting to know them.
“I love my homestay family. They are so sweet and being with them has already pushed me out of my comfort zone. Speaking Spanish and staying in someone else’s home, sharing life in a different language is intense, but it’s so great. I love seeing them smile. I just wish I knew more Spanish,” wrote one student.
Sunday morning we visited San Antonio Aguas Calientes, a Cakchikel Mayan village and hometown of Sandra Ordoñez. The participants spent the morning in the Mayan Cultural Arts Center, a women’s cooperative dedicated to preserving the traditional arts of their Mayan culture. Whitney, a GV Gap Year student, and two bilingual GV students, Iris and Tanya, translated the presentations.
In another activity, the students were able to experience a traditional Cakchikel wedding ceremony demonstration, in which Morgane and Daniel got “married”. Diaba and Van served as the bride’s parents. After the demonstration, we danced and ate pepian, the tradional wedding meal (think: rich Mexican mole sause except different).
We then travelled to Pastores, specificallySegunda Cruz, where from 2007 to 2009, GV volunteers worked to together with local families to build a three-classroom school.
We passed time with local families in their homes, playing soccer with the kids and getting to know how life is in a small rural village in Guatemala where the average family income is $8 a day and where families live in one or two room homes of cinder block walls and tin roofs.
Monday we started work and intensive one-on-one language classes at Centro Linguistica La Union. We also began work on our work teams. So far everyone is doing well. We will write more soon. Take care.