Thursday, May 23, 2013

Santa Cruzin'

I still can’t wrap my mind around that fact that I am spending my summer working in Guatemala!  I am currently a summer intern volunteer, working with six other summer volunteers, and four program directors.  One of my first significant experiences was at the school in Central, Chaquijyá, on my first day on the job. As I was waiting outside to teach my first art class, a group of 5 year old students swarmed me and the other volunteers while smiling, laughing, and chanting “Gringo, Gringo,” a term meaning “white people.”  The children immediately hugged all the volunteers and engaged us into playful activities.  The kids were beyond excited to see all of us at their school and they could not have given us a warmer welcome. 

Kathryn, Cheryl, and Nicole after art class 
My favorite experience, thus far, is from our weekend trip to Santa Cruz. The trip was an enjoyable treat that allowed the vols to relax after an eventful week working in Chaquijyá.  Our hostel was a tourist spot located right on the lake and was a “hippie” paradise. We spent most of our day relaxing in a secluded area that contained swings, hammocks, and couches.  After the tranquil day, we were able to finish off the night with a hike and a hot tub soak.  During our trip, I could not help but think that although this paradise was located only 40 minutes away from Chaquijyá, the lifestyles are so different that the two locations may as well have been millions of miles away.   

Relaxing area at Isla Verde 
I have already learned so much from being here in Guatemala.  Not only has my Spanish improved, but  more importantly I better appreciate simple luxuries offered in the states, such as constant access to filtered water.  I am excited for what I still have to learn and experience in the next two and half weeks, but I know that even though Guatemala is so different from home, I will not want to leave this place. 

- Jackie 

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