Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Farewell Friends

This past Tuesday, our first group of summer volunteers left our living room for the last time.  Now they're spread all around the United States - in Nebraska, Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina.   But for a month, we got to share our work and our lives, and each day was an adventure.  If you're curious, head over to their blog to read about the experience.  We've provided quotes from each of the volunteers below.  Jodi, Jaydon, John, and Rachel, we'll miss you.  Thanks for the memories.

"When you imagine Guatemala you might think of the large indigenous population, the high poverty rates, the highlands and jungle, or even the ancient center of Tikal in the Peten. However, Guatemala’s character is so much more complex than the simplicity of these disparate parts. Guatemala is a quirky country of contradictions; a unique place where the adventures of a traveler consist of unpredictable encounters with exciting places, events, and people."

"Living and working in Guatemala has certainly taken the phrase “rolling with the punches” to an entirely new level. From relying on the public transportation system that is, shall we say, eccentric, to ever moving meeting times and dealing with the temperamental weather that is the rainy season, we have all become accustomed to adjusting and going with plan B, or plan C. Even more meaningful than unexpected situations and twists, however, have been the people that have found their way into our lives."

"Today concluded both my mini-camp and my time teaching in the schools. I am very sad that it is over. I just started to really get to know the kids and now I have to say goodbye. I would do anything to be able to stay and spend more time with them. But, as the wise Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” I am so very thankful for the opportunity to come to Guatemala. This experience has truly been life-changing and I encourage everybody to take time and reflect on all the blessings they have in their lives."

"Maybe that’s why I love coming on these trips- because I can come home with handmade pieces of clothing, some local food, and stories and stories and stories to share. And maybe if more of us committed to a real understanding of a global awareness, maybe we’d start to define success differently. Maybe we’d be able to see the bright fifth grade girl who has no idea how to order fractions and who will someday grow up to have eight children and make delicious corn tortillas as success for her as much as my college education is success for me."

"Upon first glance, the difference between this tiny school and the elementary school of my childhood is stark. Closer attention to what the children say and do; however, suggests amazing similarities. The girls cluster in corners and giggle at the boys. They grab one another by the shoulder and pull each other to whisper exciting gossip. They gather close to myself and the other female volunteers and ask whether or not we have boyfriends. The boys punch each other and yell obnoxiously for attention. They kick around the soccer balls and pretend to be too cool for learning. They attack the male volunteers and beg them to partake in their pick up games during recess. Both the boys and girls worry about how to dress, how to act, and they often feign shyness in our company. All of these are behaviors that could be witnessed in any elementary school in the United States, and I anticipate in the rest of the world."

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