UAB Spring Break

Monday, March 18, 2013

I really did not know what to expect traveling to Guatemala. For me, it was the first time I had ever been on a plane and obviously out of the country. I now feel like if I can make it through a plane ride, I can do anything! I was really excited to interact with all of the kids and teach them dental hygiene. Wal-Mart was generous enough to donate four soccer balls to us for our school visits, and we brought one along today. It was so much fun playing soccer and getting schooled by all of the kids. I was happy that communicating with the children was relatively easy because I haven’t studied Spanish in a long time. This trip has definitely inspired me to study Spanish and learn more about the language. I am also grateful for our group leaders for helping us through our first day of our dental charlas and guiding us through our first time out in Solola. I have really enjoyed the trip so far and I am looking forward to the rest of the week!
-- Whitney

This trip to Guatemala has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I have only been here for one day! I have never been out of the country before this trip, but I can already tell that I am going to have the “Traveling Bug,” for a long time to come. Everywhere we go, there is something new to see. I was especially entranced by the house that the Homestay family, that I had the opportunity to have lunch with today, lived in. I loved how the entire extended family lived in one house. Family that close seems to be something that families in the United States are lacking. I was also surprised at how enthusiastic the children we worked with today were about learning about dental health and just learning in general. They were so excited to see us, and had so many questions for us. I really wish that I spoke more Spanish so that I could have better answered their questions.
-- Taylor

Guatemala has been a lot different than I ever expected. The Americanization of Guatemala City was very surprising. It is upsetting that in some cities the beautiful Guatemalan culture has been muffled by the American culture, but Sololá is so peaceful and beautiful. The bright colors of clothing, the busy bustling in the streets and the hospitality of the people in Sololá has been intoxicating. Today we went to our first school to teach dental care and had our homestay lunch. I could not imagine a better school to start off our week.

The children and teachers were eager to learn and extremely interactive in all the activities we provided. Although the main reason we went to the school was to teach dental care, my favorite part was the opportunity to engage with the students by playing soccer and basketball.  The opportunity to see the children doing things that bring them so much joy, such as playing sports and being able to participate in group activities, was extremely rewarding! I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with these amazing children and Manna Project.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today was the day we went to the school that Julie teaches at. We got to meet all her students , Katie twisted her ankle and its pretty swollen. The information that the 4th and 5th graders were learning really impressed us. For example, they were learning basic geometry and plant/animal cells.  The 6th graders were a little more rambunctious than the other grades, but were still interested in learning. One thing that was hilarious was how the older students dragged not only the other students who were afraid, but also the teachers that did not want fluoride applied to their teeth. We also meet with Community Enterprise Services (CES), a non-governmental organization, to learn about how they contribute to the lower socio-economic status population with products and innovations such as eye glasses for the seeing impaired and house hold utilities like lights and stoves.  The CES is basically trying to raise the SES status of the poorer families in the communities along with organizing campaigns to extremely rural communities.  Some issues that were brought up during this meeting were how we, as Americans, could help with this cause by collecting these items that we take for granted and making them available to this communities.  This items, mentioned previously, cost us as Americans next to nothing but with the economic status of these communities these items are almost equivalent to buying a car or house in the USA.  For example, a stove, which we just pay for at once most of the time or at least in 2 to 3 months are primarily available through payment plans that last for 7 months or more.  As a group we discussed how these items are very cheap for us but extremely expensive for these populations and how if we were to buy these things for these populations it would not affect our SES at all.

--Katie, Justin, Julie 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

As I am writing this blog passage at the midpoint of our stay in Solola, I feel as if words cannot adequately describe the experience thus far. Although our stay has not been long, we have been immersed in the culture of Guatemala and seen the needs of the people here. Any initial apprehension or nervousness felt prior to the trip has quickly dissipated as our group has worked in the schools and bonded during our time together. 

Any concept of time seems to have faded away here, which has been relieving and liberating. It seems as if we just arrived, yet we will be doing dental work at our last school tomorrow morning. The people of this country and community have been extremely receptive to our work, and they have all been welcoming, hospitable, and content to work with feeble-minded Americans who know little to no Spanish. The children at the schools have all warmed to us despite our language barrier and cultural differences. I have certainly gained a greater appreciation for the people of this country and their resilience to hardships, particularly those related to  the bureaucratic structure of the Guatemalan government. I truly believe that we have made a lasting impact on the community here through improving dental healthcare, an impact with tangible and long-lasting benefits for those who might not have access to such care otherwise.

The PDs from Manna Project International have been instrumental in the implementation of our project, and they have also been indispensable as guides and mentors. I could not ask for a better group to work alongside with. We are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity in conjunction with the MPI organization.

From Solola, Guatemala - Hasta luego,

--Brandon Sherrod

Guatemala has definitely been an amazing experience. Today one was one of my favorites. We started off by visiting a school where we taught students about dental health and treated their teeth with fluoride. Afterwards we took a trip down to Panajachel. We were finally able to get a close up look at the Lago de Atitlan which was beyond beautiful.  We also visited an NGO which helped in supporting local women weavers. I wanted to buy the entire store of bags, scarves, and other woven items. I settled in buying a purse. Afterwards we went to a medical garden.  We were able to tour the garden, learn, and even drink tea made from plants grown there. Another one of my favorite things about Pana was a coffee shop that we visited. It was full of people from all places of the world and it was nice to be able to communicate with strangers in English. My favorite part of the day had to be the bus ride back to Sololá. We finally were able to ride a “chicken bus” which was basically a crowded school bus. The woman beside me had chickens that she was hiding in a bag, and when it was her turn to get off, the chicken flew out and smacked my friend in the face with its wing. Going on this trip was one of the greatest decisions that I have made. I’m sad to be going home, but I can’t wait to get back and share the things that I have experienced while in Guatemala with my family and friends.
--Abigail Wojciechowski

No comments:

Post a Comment