Reflections from Trip Leader Katie Wallace

It’s the second to last day of the trip, our last day of work and just hours before our fiesta de despedida (farewell party). I’m sitting here overwhelmed by what we’ve seen, heard and done here in Guatemala in the previous two weeks.

As I prepare to head back to Seattle I begin to imagine what I’ll take home from Guatemala (aside from handmade earrings and hundreds of digital photos). I have memories of the steep, exhausting hill we climbed each day en route to the construction site. I have mental images of the lush hillsides, the cobblestone streets in Antigua and the beautiful smiling faces of the guatemaltecos that we greeted in every passing. I’ll carry with me new relationships, stronger relationships and a greater sense of peace than I had when we left.Above all these images and memories I am leaving with the desire to research. I want to know even more about Guatemalan history and politics. How can the current President of Guatemala be responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people? How was this former General elected by Guatemalans in 2011? This leaves me with feelings of disbelief, frustration, anger and wonder.

Learning is not measured by the number of pages read in a night or by the number of books read in a semester.
Education is not an act of consuming ideas, but of creating and recreating them.
- Paulo Freire

The most valuable and eye-opening experience has been spending time talking with my host brothers, 21 and 18, after dinner. Their wealth of knowledge about Guatemalan history and their passion to raise awareness about politics (of the past and present) are impressive and motivating. My older host brother has led large scale protests in Guatemala City, and my younger host brother won a speech contest while we were there. He spoke in the central park in Antigua about acknowledging Antigua’s true history. I am in awe that there is such little acknowledgement of the genocide and corruption that have taken place in their country. I have never personally known young adults so angry and yet genuinely convinced that change on a large scale is possible and attainable. I look forward to learning more, and I hope that they will continue to inspire youth in Guatemala and from the U.S. to learn and take action in their communities and on a global scale.

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