This past week, the programs have been going smoothly now that we have become accustomed to the way the programs are run and are getting to know the people and children we are teaching and working with. Everyone loves the children here, and we cannot help but want to take one home with us!
Today, the school put on a celebration for Teacher’s Day, which is a holiday that celebrates the teachers in Guatemala. We watched the students put on dances, and we were also able to dance and play with the children. I also learned that cameras are a big hit with the kids.
Later, we were able to experience a Mayan ceremony, which is an opportunity only bestowed on a few people who are not of Mayan descent. We sat in a circle around a fire, which was burning incense, chocolate, sugar, candles, and other organic materials, while two spirit guides conducted the ceremony in Kaqchikel. Even though we did not understand the words spoken at the ceremony, we were told what certain things in the ceremony represented, like the different colors of the candles and what certain actions meant. Afterwards, we listened to Carlos, who is Kaqchikel, discuss Kaqchikel culture and the civil war. It was really interesting listening to him and hearing about the persecution of the indigenous population. Sometimes I think it can be difficult for us to understand very different cultures and experiences, but Carlos helped us to understand everything.
Watching the Mayan ceremony and listening to Carlos were not only incredibly interesting experiences, but they also let me see another culture in a way I never would have been able to before. Learning about the Kaqchikel people and Guatemalan culture has helped me to better understand the people that I work with and am currently surrounded by. I hope that I will be able to become more familiarized with Guatemalan culture over the next couple weeks, and I cannot wait to experience more of Guatemala!