Last week, one of last year's Program Directors came to visit us. It was so much fun to be able to meet "Camaron Sin Cola," hear about his adventures here, and receive some pointers on various programs and Spring Break planning. Here are some of his thoughts on his visit:
Before I left Guatemala in June 2012, I promised myself that I would make an effort to return within a year. The relationships I formed and the experiences I had were too valuable to throw away. Therefore, this past week, during my winter break from school, I returned to Guatemala.
It’s always a little different to return to a place as an outsider instead of an active participant. This time around in Chaquijyá, I had the opportunity to watch the new Manna Program Directors do what I had been doing for the past year. It was great to see how Sarah, Jess, Ja, Nicole, and Julie had not only continued the programs in the community, but also implemented new changes for improvement. They have formed great relationships with the teachers, students, and families in Chaquijyá, and I can imagine they will have a successful rest of the year.
As for me, it was somewhat surreal to be back in the far away land of Guatemala. For my former students, it was as if I had suddenly apparated (Harry Potter reference) in the middle of their town with no prior warning. They were truly shocked to see me, as if they had seen a ghost. Aside from that, I received many warm welcomes from the teachers, students, and families I had worked with last year. I guess it’s difficult to forget the only tall, sunglass-wearing, white male who you used to visit the community on a regular basis.
During my year as a Program Director, I always wondered if I had made an impact. I think the jury is still out on whether my students will ever become proficient in English, but I can be sure that I was not forgotten. Just as they were not forgotten in my mind and heart. I can only hope that if and when any former Program Directors return, they will be received with similar open arms.