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    [post_date] => 2016-03-22 13:26:51
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    [post_content] => 21/03 Hanna

When the bus stopped we all got out happy and excited. Lisa told us many times how amazing the Earth Lodge is and how it was only a couple hundred meters walk downhill. All excited did we go down the hill already amazed by the view. Really impressed as soon as we saw the reception space surrounded by hammocks and a view of Antigua and three Volcanoes. Impulsive. The right word to express my feelings does not exist, it was just incredible. I have never been to such a place where i felt so peaceful and down to earth. The most suitable place for a group reflection. When we got our room keys I felt like a little child unwrapping a present. When we were left to see our little cabins, I could not wait to explore the whole area.

As we came all back together we watched a video about how our culture and society of consumerism harms our environment. It wrapped up everything that we learned this trip, very impactful. For me, it showed me how simple I thought and that I have to think more critically within my own society, stop following and start using my own common knowledge, make my own decisions; very eye opening. Through the meditation time on our own we had the opportunity to think even deep about what we just saw and how we could apply that into our everyday life back home. My plans to undertake are to think twice before I buy something new or throw away something. Either if I really need to buy it or if I could donate the money, or before throwing out looking for another opportunity for use, like donating or second hand shops.

As special and connecting as this place is we had dinner in family style. We were all sitting around the table getting the same food served and talking like brothers and sisters. Everybody was joking around, laughing, and just enjoying the time together. I felt really close and well bonded in that moment. Especially because we hadn't' had dinner together in a week now. It was as if I was sitting with my family knowing everyone since I can remember. Those memories are priceless and will always be with me, leading me through my whole life. No matter where the wind takes me.

To finalize this night, Mitch and Lisa planned an amazing ceremony. Standing in a circle below the moonlight, in the background Antigua and the volcanoes. Feeling comfortable by just standing there and closing our eyes, which usually makes me feel insecure and weak. This time it was different, I trust everyone. Mitch and Lisa talked about all the activities we did, made me realize how impactful this whole time was and will be. It will never happen again in the same way. It is unique. The whole time had such an impact on the whole group that we all shared a piece that we are taking home to adapt in our lives.

Very peaceful and grounded did we end the last day.
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Appleby College Guatemala

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Peaceful and grounded

Hanna,Appleby College Guatemala

Description

21/03 Hanna When the bus stopped we all got out happy and excited. Lisa told us many times how amazing the Earth Lodge is and how it was only a couple hundred meters walk downhill. All excited did we go down the hill already amazed by the view. Really impressed as soon as we saw […]

Posted On

03/22/16

Author

Hanna

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    [post_date] => 2016-03-22 13:24:50
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    [post_content] => 21/03 Sophie

We came with fears, but braveness to get our hands dirty. Like new flowers blooming who saw the earth for the first time, we faced our own fears and had new experiences in the last couple of days.

How is it possible that our adopted families taught us so much in such short time?

Their impact on each and everyone of us impressed me everyday.

When I now look up to the starry sky it will always remind me of the generous and constantly smiling people in the little town. The town we are about to leave. The town that changed our lives in multiple ways. The town with our footprints in the dust.

We left with broken hearts but open minds.
Saying our last goodbyes to our new families awakened tears in our eyes and tore our hearts into many pieces. The way to the bus felt like an eternity, no one wanted to get in and leave this magical place.

For everyone of us this journey meant something different, but it all affected us in one way.

Now to sit in the bus, leaving this little town behind you and looking outside, seeing every house and mountain passing by, like the memories you have, does not feel right. It feels like leaving a part of your heart.

We stopped with thoughtful minds, but hungry stomachs.

After filling our bodies with food and repeating your favorite songs over and over again, we drove the last hours to the Earth Lodge, where the stars kiss the city lights of Antigua.

This adventure was one of the most impacting things I have ever done and I would not change any single moment about it, even if I could.

Even thought we all know these are our last days, I enjoy spending them with my new family of friends.

We arrived with sadness but curious smiles.
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Appleby College Guatemala

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We came with fears

Sophie,Appleby College Guatemala

Description

21/03 Sophie We came with fears, but braveness to get our hands dirty. Like new flowers blooming who saw the earth for the first time, we faced our own fears and had new experiences in the last couple of days. How is it possible that our adopted families taught us so much in such short […]

Posted On

03/22/16

Author

Sophie

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    [post_content] => 20/03 Andy

After all I have been through in the past 11 days, I can only describe my feeling by saying 'conflicted'. The major 'force' that pushes me along this challenging and exciting journey has been weakened and weakened. I miss my home some much. These ten days make me understand the importance of appreciating what I have right now. So i feel a little happy when we are approaching the departure day.

Partners who worked with me, friend who cheered me up and roommates who I lived with will all become some of my best memories in my mind. Some of them I have no chance to meet again, and we had just started to get to deeply get to know each other. We have to leave. I will never have a better chance to visit a culture as del as this one. It is bittersweet.

This morning we finalize the bread we made by adding on different toppings. We work hard and we laugh. Everybody has big smiles on their face, instead of stressed, emotionless faces under academic pressure at school.

We together played a few games after the decorating and baking. I can't count how many times we laughed, at Mr. Marshall's jokes and funny moves, Omar's 'clumsy' laughter, and Mitch's incredible stories. All that is fading away....In just two days we'll be back to where we belong and live like we've never met before. Mr. Marshall is leaving Appleby next year, Omar is graduating and Mitch will be just be a funny and tough figure in my memory. Each time I being to think about this I'm hollowed.

WRITTEN THE NEXT MORNING 21/03 Andy:

I thought I was going to be so happy when I'm out of this place, but now everything seems to be going the opposite way. I am sad to say goodbye. Late at night, my dad texted me and said 'I miss you' (I know I'm not supposed to be on my phone!). He always wants me to be a strong and mature man so he always pretends not to care about me. After 12 days of not caring about me, his first text is short, but so powerful.
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Appleby College Guatemala

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After all I’ve been through

Andy,Appleby College Guatemala

Description

20/03 Andy After all I have been through in the past 11 days, I can only describe my feeling by saying ‘conflicted’. The major ‘force’ that pushes me along this challenging and exciting journey has been weakened and weakened. I miss my home some much. These ten days make me understand the importance of appreciating […]

Posted On

03/22/16

Author

Andy

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    [post_content] => 20/03 Sophie

The Last Day

Sometimes there are days you cannot find the right words to describe how you feel. You are happy and sad at the same time and still try to figure out how that can be.

You are here at this amazing place, you would have never thought of going to, and enjoy the last nights with the starry sky right above you.

World play.

You have seen so much in such a short time. You have felt, eaten, and experienced with the kindest of people around you. There is no way you would ever leave this place. You are as close to the earth and mother nature as you can get.

But still you feel happy and sad at once.

World Forward.

It feels like yesterday arriving in this little town, Pachaj, being loved by the local families.

Be called 'hijo' or 'hija' as if you were their own child. Playing with their kids and pets. Creating smiles in everyone's faces, just by smiling at them. Making everyones day, simply by being present. Having an adventure everyday.
Being openminded for everything and everyone new.

Here we do not care what tomorrow is going to bring us, but just live in the here and now.
Until the last day arrives.

World Rewind

Time is the enemy every person has, it messes up everything we appreciate for just a minute. The time here passes by as well and my new family taught me a lot, not even how to cook or to do my laundry the old-fashioned way. I have learned that we need to appreciate the little things and be happy with what we have.

The people here had such a big impact on me and changed my way of thinking.

Living with them has taught me to be thankful every single morning I wake up, whether rain or sunshine.

They showed me how to enjoy each second of a day, by simply smiling through my day and not taking everything to seriously.

By spending time with my host family I also got to get to know myself better. (I know that I still hate corn and this country has a lot of it...)

Leaving this little town and my family is not going to be easy. How can I saw goodbye to those who taught me how to be happy every day?
It tore my heart apart to see tears in my host mom's eyes. Her eyes glittered like a starry sky right above me. But behind the sparkling tears I saw her typical smile gracing her face. And even though I was sad to leave, I was happy at the same time, by just seeing this beautiful and generous smile.

Having this experience and being part of this journey has made me see the truth and the beauty in anything.

Sometimes we just need to stop the world and hold on to those incredible memories.

So,

World Stop.
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Best Notes From The Field, Appleby College Guatemala, Homestay

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The Last Day

Sophie,Best Notes From The Field, Appleby College Guatemala, Homestay

Description

20/03 Sophie The Last Day Sometimes there are days you cannot find the right words to describe how you feel. You are happy and sad at the same time and still try to figure out how that can be. You are here at this amazing place, you would have never thought of going to, and […]

Posted On

03/22/16

Author

Sophie

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    [post_content] => Today we said good by to our generous families in Pachaj and Armando and the Chico Mendes project where we have been working and learning for the past week. Thank you for hosting us!
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Saying good by to Chico Mendes

Instructors,Appleby College Guatemala

Description

Today we said good by to our generous families in Pachaj and Armando and the Chico Mendes project where we have been working and learning for the past week. Thank you for hosting us!

Posted On

03/21/16

Author

Instructors

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    [post_title] => Photos from Cooking
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Photos from Cooking

Mitch Haddad,Appleby College Guatemala

Description

Photos from the kitchen

Posted On

03/20/16

Author

Mitch Haddad

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    [post_date] => 2016-03-20 21:13:01
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    [post_content] => 19/3 Andy

Day 11

Today is the 11th day and the second to last day of saying in my homestay family. I'm still waking up in an ordinary way, still get woken up by my roommates complaining about the cold weather. By the time I'm fully conscious the sun light has already claimed in the room through the gaps and cracks on the door. "Breakfast is ready!" yells my lovely and friendly homestay mom. The is the most upbeat battle drum for starting a day I've ever hear in my life. Proper dressed, well prepared, fully loaded, ready for todays 'journey'.

Compared to previous days which we spent time doing hardcore physical work and activities, today is way enjoyable. Our task is to choose and buy fruits and vegetables from the Saturday Market and cook it.

When we get off the bus, a crowded, nosey, and dense market; or should I say parade of people, meet us. Frankly, this is actually not unfamiliar to me. I was raised in a 'second level' city in China. when I was little, my grandma took me to the morning market everyday. Therefore, when I first saw the crowd, the little river that runs through the market, and heard the loud noises from the low quality speakers, I felt at home. Our group quickly selected some fresh and healthy food. Although yesterday our teachers trained us to bargain, sometime we just decided to buy the things at the original prices. Soon we became the most 'favorite customers' of the market.

With two fully loaded hands, we returned to our base. Cooking with friends is one of the happiest activities I can think of. A group of strangers from one of the wealthiest communities in Canada are trying to make a table of delicious food, with our broken and rigid practical skills. It's funny and sad. The table is soon filled with different, unique cultural dishes. Then the feast began. I discovered that the most delicious food is the food we made ourselves in good company.

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Appleby College Guatemala

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A trip to the market

Andy,Appleby College Guatemala

Description

19/3 Andy Day 11 Today is the 11th day and the second to last day of saying in my homestay family. I’m still waking up in an ordinary way, still get woken up by my roommates complaining about the cold weather. By the time I’m fully conscious the sun light has already claimed in the […]

Posted On

03/20/16

Author

Andy

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    [post_title] => Activity from our last day of Spanish classes
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Activity from our last day of Spanish classes

Mitch Haddad,Appleby College Guatemala

Description

We celebrate our teachers and our new skills.

Posted On

03/20/16

Author

Mitch Haddad

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    [post_date] => 2016-03-19 11:34:40
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    [post_content] => This morning, we focused on another problem that affects the region, which is waste. As we have already seen our our journey, many areas in Guatemala don't have an organized system for processing garbage, so most of the waste produced is just thrown into the forest.

First, a person from the municipality of Cantal, which Pachja belongs to, came to speak to us about a new waste processing program that had been newly put in place only recently. We learned that Pachaj used to dump all their garbage into an open landfill, which caused them a lot of problems because of all the diseases it nursed. On top of that, the people of Pachaj also had to pay a huge fine to the Guatemalan government because of it. This shows that waste is not only a problem aesthetically, but it can affect people's lives drastically if they don't find a way to manage it.

However, this new program is not able to process all the waste created by Pachaj and the surrounding villages because they don't have enough funding. I was shocked to learn that the program gets no funding from the Guatemalan government. All of their funding come from international sources. I found it ironic how the government doesn't put any funding into environmental programs, but then proceed to punish the people when problems occur because of the absence of these programs. It is really up to organizations like Chico Mendez, with the help of groups like ours, to made a real change. After hearing about this, I wanted to do whatever I can to help.

Afterwards, we went up to the forest to collect garbage. Even though I've been to this forest a few times, I've never notice how much garbage there was. We picked up dozens of plastic bags, wrappers and styrofoam cups that were carelessly tossed in the bushes along the trails. We even found a few garbage dumps, with about a foot deep of plastic bags filled with baby pampers buried under the leaves. Some were filled with muddy water and had green moss growing on the outside. I was grossed out and also horrified by the sight. Why would people use the forest, which gives us oxygen, maintain the climate, and prevents soil erosion, along with countless other things, and dump trash in it, instead of protecting it as the most precious resource they have?

As we hiked up the mountain, we came to a clearing in the woods - with garbage littered everywhere. Plastic bags, candy wrappers, juice boxes, plastic bottles were spread along the entire area, covering the ground. We found out that this was a campsite, and people just left all their trash here when they were done. I was both sad and furious at the sight. Why wouldn't people just pick up their trash? To me, that seemed only natural. And now, because of these people's laziness and ignorance, this once beautiful campsite was ruined. Then, however, I remembered that I have that kind of conscience, because I have been raised in places that have been aware of the importance of nature for a long time, whereas here in Pachaj, people are just starting to realize it. Therefore, educating the people is the only way that we can bring change.
 
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Appleby College Guatemala

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Waste Management in Cantel

Angela,Appleby College Guatemala

Description

This morning, we focused on another problem that affects the region, which is waste. As we have already seen our our journey, many areas in Guatemala don’t have an organized system for processing garbage, so most of the waste produced is just thrown into the forest. First, a person from the municipality of Cantal, which […]

Posted On

03/19/16

Author

Angela

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    [post_date] => 2016-03-19 11:31:46
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    [post_content] => Lunch was especially good today. We ate a chicken stew served with rice, potatoes, and carrots. I have discovered that I really enjoy jalapeños with my food. I am considering planting and growing some jalapeños in my back yard back in Canada. I ate all of my lunch save for the carrots. I am not the biggest fan of carrots.

After lunch I went to go get ice cream with a couple of friends just before our Spanish lessons. My Spanish teacher, Cande, is one of the nicest and funniest people I have met in Guatemala. We stopped by the bakery on the way to her house to pick up some bread for her family. I made her laugh by yelling 'EL CARRO ES AZUL' obnoxiously loudly as a blue truck drove past us along the road. Some children from the school  nearby stared at me and that made me laugh harder.

After Spanish class, Cande and I walked back to Armando's house. I have a reputation amongst the Spanish teachers but being that really loud kid who laughs a lot. I got several smiles from the teachers as we got back to Armando's house. Then we got to play soccer with the Guatemalan students. We kind of got destroyed. I am reluctant to include the score in this entry. We also lost badly in the post match dance off. lol

When Liam and I arrived home today, Wendy ran up to us yelling 'Omar!!!' with a smile on her face and her arms up in the air. I picked her up and put her on my shoulder. Wendy is the most adorable 5 year old I have ever met. her smile could stop a world war. We had an amazing dinner with my homestay family and I got complimented on my improving Spanish (I learned the alphabet yesterday). Before we went to sleep, we went outside and looked at the stars. I showed them Jupiter in the night sky. they were very fascinated with my astronomy stuff.
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Appleby College Guatemala

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El Carro es Azul

Omar,Appleby College Guatemala

Description

Lunch was especially good today. We ate a chicken stew served with rice, potatoes, and carrots. I have discovered that I really enjoy jalapeños with my food. I am considering planting and growing some jalapeños in my back yard back in Canada. I ate all of my lunch save for the carrots. I am not […]

Posted On

03/19/16

Author

Omar

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