"Let’s play hide and seek! Let’s play hide and seek!" A chorus of little girls voices rang through the Cooperativa school grounds. Six little girls grabbed onto me and Christina, another summer intern, holding our hands and pulling us to our feet. After ten minutes of girl talk and hand games with these adorable nine year olds, they were ready to play.
A wonderfully joyful little girl named Brenda continued to hug me and talk to us about our American lives back home. Then they taught us some words in Kaqchikel—how to count from one to nine—and after laughing at our attempts at their indigenous language, we all got up to play the universal game of hide and seek. But, here in Guate, one person counts while everyone runs and hides together, much more my style than hiding by one’s self. I have loved being silly and laughing with these girls while running from the seeker. They have so much fun playing these fun, silly, easy games. Their joy for life is so wonderful and makes me think twice about my own and what is important to me. It is amazing to see these kids who are so happy and lively despite their circumstances. They are resilient and strong. We then played an exciting game of pato, pato, ganzo (duck, duck, goose), and a Guatemalan game where the group circles around someone in the middle, who is eventually ready to eat and essentially chases everyone around. I am excited to report that I can actually understand and talk with these kids now. I am really happy that my Spanish has been improving. I can communicate and learn from my students, which I am doing. A lot. They have not only taught me their language, but about laughter and courage.
It’s moments like playing with these kids for an hour in recreo that I will remember and cherish. These cute girls, dressed in traje and smiles, were so eager and happy to play games with us. After being here for almost six weeks, these kids now recognized us, and more importantly, we recognize them. Their faces mean something. We know their names and care about their lives and their wellbeing. I’ll be sad to leave them in ten short days, but I know they will always hold a special place in my heart and will have changed who I am for the better.