Spring Trip Update IV

Greetings Parents and GV Supporters,

I can’t believe we’re already in the second part of our trip. Semana Santa culminated with a bang, literally, as we were all awakened at dawn on Easter Sunday by celebratory fireworks. The end of the week also meant the end of language school. Students wrote thank you speeches in Spanish and took lots of pictures with their teachers.

The next day I was subjected to what I am renaming “group leader boot camp”. Those of us who are in shape really enjoyed hiking up to San Antonio Aguas Calientes to care for newly planted trees. The rest of us enjoyed being at the top and sharing a snack (courtesy of the city)before we worked together with our Chapin counterparts to fill up plastic bottles from a natural spring to water the new trees.

Between work teams and group reflections, we visited a coffee plantation to see how coffee is grown and processed. We also visited Maya Pedal, a non-profit committed to promoting eco-sustainability by turning recycled bicycles into pedal-powered machines.

Grace and Clint Try Out Bicycle-Powered Machines at Maya Pedal

Yesterday we were joined once more by Mark McDermott and his wife, Diane Zahn. We watched the movie “When Mountains Tremble” and had a very in-depth discussion about Imperialism and the role of the United States in the 36 year civil war that claimed so many Mayan lives in Guatemala.

Chris Fontana with Mark McDermott and Diane Zahn

Below is what Kale Reb, one of our spring participants wanted share about her trip so far:

Kale Tending to Newly Planted Tree

“So far this trip to Guatemala has been incredible, physically, mentally, and emotionally. For me, the beginning of this trip was difficult. For one, I was home sick and two, the general trash dump in Guatemala City made me hurt. Looking down at the trash piles, I knew I helped contribute to them. However, I can say that when I saw all that trash, I knew I had to do something about it. That was just the start. Later on during this past week, I learned more about the culture of Guatemala from my host family and my Spanish teacher, Johanna, at the language school.

I was touched by my home-stay parent, Reyna, who doesn’t know how to read or write. When she told me, my heart broke. This beautiful Guatemalan woman and mom did not have what I take for granted. It’s people like Reyna who need to be heard, helped, and appreciated. That moment is when I decided I knew what I want to do, I want to be a journalist; a journalist who gives a voice to those who cannot speak and those who want to speak but are afraid of possible consequences.

The days following enforced this plan in group reflections, in school, with my home-stay on the construction work team. All of it. All these moments are painting my future, what I want my future to look like.

To bring the trip up to date: Yesterday we went on a couple tours and then went to see a documentary called ‘When Mountains Tremble.’ The documentary was about the people in Guatemala and the oppression placed on them by the United States and Guatemala’s own people. The stories in this documentary made me cry…seeing that even trying to help your community during this time led to death as a punishment. It was so incomprehensible to me. The idea of helping out leading to death is a clear flaw in terms of justice. I hope that this next week I will learn how to right these injustices the best I can and to continue to enjoy myself here in Guatemala. I want to take what I learn back to the United States.

One more week! We’ll work hard and continue to learn. Until then, adios.” –Kale Reb

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