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PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala


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Our group had to say farewell to our host families this morning as we left our home base of San Lucas Toliman for the city of Antigua. The drive took us through numerous Guatemalan towns, where we could see the strong local culture that we've discussed throughout the course in action.

Upon arriving in Antigua, the group got to explore the town and try out the art of negotiation (turns out we're not great at it). For dinner, we got to visit a "super cool secret spot" which truly lived up to the hype. The food was incredible, as was the company. Plus, we could hear the sounds of Semana Santa outside! Afterward, the group got to hear Juancho play original songs on his guitar and shared life stories. It was a lovely way to end the trip.

 

This last day has also served as a time for reflection. We could see how our experience in Guatemala changed the way we view our connection with others. Through experiential learning, our eyes were opened to the importance of preserving culture and tradition and how to live in harmony with the land. Many of us have been inspired to travel more. We can honestly say that our time in Guatemala will stick with us far after we've returned to Eugene.

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Day 8, April 2, 2017

Kenzie White,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

Our group had to say farewell to our host families this morning as we left our home base of San Lucas Toliman for the city of Antigua. The drive took us through numerous Guatemalan towns, where we could see the strong local culture that we’ve discussed throughout the course in action. Upon arriving in Antigua, […]

Posted On

04/3/17

Author

Kenzie White

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We began our day by heading to Ijatz, the cooperative that we had visited the day before. There they served us a breakfast that consisted of eggs, beans, bananas, and homemade tortillas. After breakfast, we got in the back of our pickup truck and drove about 25 minutes to Quixaya, a town about 3000 feet lower than San Lucas Toliman. Because of that it was definitely hotter and more humid.

When we got to Quixaya we hiked back to some different pools. The first pool that we visited was where they raised baby tilapia. Then we continued back to some other pools, some of which we could swim in! We began by working on helping to construct a new pool to help store tilapia in. First we cleared weeds out of an existing pool and then went to a nearby river to collect rocks to line the bottom of the pool with. It was a very rewarding project to do because otters had destroyed the pool to the point where tilapia could no longer live in there. The local producers are working to innovate techniques to protect their future tilapia populations.

After working for a while, we got the opportunity to swim and relax in the beautiful pools nearby. We ended our time at Quixaya by eating lunch - tilapia, of course - and hiking back out to the road to get some ice cream before taking the truck back to San Lucas Toliman.

Since it was our last day in San Lucas, we got the spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring San Lucas and spending time with our host families. Many of us took to the opportunity to walk down by the lake and enjoy some coffee at a local cafe. Others went to the central park with their host families, where a huge and very energetic evangelical Christian celebration was taking place.

 

As the time with our host families came to an end, it was definitely sad to say goodbye. The last four days were an amazing opportunity to learn more about local culture and life in San Lucas. I personally loved playing with my host siblings and practicing my Spanish.

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Day 7, March 31

Amanda Radtke,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

We began our day by heading to Ijatz, the cooperative that we had visited the day before. There they served us a breakfast that consisted of eggs, beans, bananas, and homemade tortillas. After breakfast, we got in the back of our pickup truck and drove about 25 minutes to Quixaya, a town about 3000 feet […]

Posted On

04/2/17

Author

Amanda Radtke

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Today we took a morning boat ride to the beautiful town of San Juan la Laguna! The streets of San Juan were filled with incredible art in the forms of paintings, murals, textiles and more.

We began our visit by touring the Dragons program house where we got to see the many projects currently happening there. It's clear that Dragons and their partners are actively working to improve that space so it can better benefit the community of San Juan. We were able to be a small part of one of those initiatives, which is to introduce permaculture practices into the space. The garden at the program house already has a number of permaculture elements from IMAP such as a spiral herb garden. Elder, a facilitator at IMAP, joined us on our trip to San Juan and he helped us practice using permaculture techniques by working in the garden. We got to clean out some garden beds, plant mint, chia, amaranth, and radishes, and learn about using mulch and water to create a healthy environment for the plants.

While practicing and learning about permaculture was one of the themes of the day, we also learned about a number of cooperatives in the community and saw the benefits of many community members working together. We visited Cooperativa La Voz, a coffee cooperative where over 160 families are involved in the organization. We learned about their methods of coffee production from growing the coffee plants to harvesting and preparing the beans. Learning about the production process was very interesting, but getting to taste some delicious coffee was also a highlight of the day!

In the afternoon we had an amazing opportunity to learn more about weaving and help weave scarves that we then got to keep. Lema' is a group of women who weave textiles using cotton and natural dyes. After learning about the dying process, we each got to try our hand at weaving. Twelve generous women worked with each of us individually to help us creates scarves. The process was much more difficult than any of us expected and it was very humbling to watch these talented women work incredibly faster than any of us could. It was a lot of fun struggling over the pattern and technique, and it was also a great way to learn about weaving.

 

Overall, we had a great time getting to know another Guatemala community where we were again reminded of the abundance of culture, traditions, and the importance of nature.

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Day 5, March 29, 2017

Amanda Gonzales,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

Today we took a morning boat ride to the beautiful town of San Juan la Laguna! The streets of San Juan were filled with incredible art in the forms of paintings, murals, textiles and more. We began our visit by touring the Dragons program house where we got to see the many projects currently happening […]

Posted On

03/31/17

Author

Amanda Gonzales

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After a delicious breakfast at our host families, we piled in the back of the pickup and headed out. Our driver dropped us off at trail head of Iquitiu and we began our hike. On the way up, we past farm land with burned corn stocks and dried soil. As we continued on our climb, the landscape around turned into a forest with 170 year old trees and a diversity of plants. A misty sky made the forest was even more beautiful and mysterious.

Once we arrive to the end of the hike, we were transported to a small farm which focused on traditional permaculture practices. Our guide and farmer introduced us to a variety of plants ranging from mint and basil to passion fruit and chi. It was fascinating to learn how diversifying crops is the best way to protect and maintain your land for years to come.

Next, we headed to another permaculture farm in San Lucas. We ate another fabulous meal comprising of mashed potatoes, chicken, and an assortment of vegetables. After lunch, we toured the facilities and learned how to adjust your practices based on the land you were given. The location was home to a variety of trees, bushes, and flowers. Our guide showed us how to get a bonsai tree from a grown tree. I expect to see more bonsais once I'm back in Eugene.

 

We finished the day by watching a documentary which went over Guatemala's political and social history. We learned about the influences and turmoil that shaped the country we are visiting. The documentary is fabulous and I would highly recommend it!

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Day 6, March 30, 2017

Julie Meunier,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

After a delicious breakfast at our host families, we piled in the back of the pickup and headed out. Our driver dropped us off at trail head of Iquitiu and we began our hike. On the way up, we past farm land with burned corn stocks and dried soil. As we continued on our climb, […]

Posted On

03/31/17

Author

Julie Meunier

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We woke early in the morning to travel to Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP). The air was cold. We watched dedicated students practice basketball drills as we sped across town on the back of a pickup truck. The day began with a ceremony calling to ancestors and nahuales. The fire and the spirits using it swayed and twisted and moved to signal positivity. The day was dos tijax representing one of 20 different nahuales that were called upon. Each member of the group had a nahual that represented them based on the date of their birth. We payed respects to our own and others.

We continued to learn about the Maya calendar and the mathematics behind it after a breakfast of pancakes and fruit. Coffee ready to go all day had the crew ready to take on any task. We took time to explore IMAP on our own before learning more about exploitation and permaculture, a more sustainable alternative for designing...everything! We saw examples from construction, agriculture, trade, culture, and more. IMAP is the driving force behind permaculture in the area. Allowing local Maya to use their land properly and prosper from the rich earth while reducing waste is the goal. The group prepared for potential challenges of moving into a native persons home through activities involving blindfolds, hackey sacks, and plenty of laughter.

 

Rain did not damper the fun truck ride home before our crash course in survival Spanish. Our group had been practicing over the previous 3 days so confidence was apparent. Doña and Don welcomed us at our location. Plenty of hugs and smiles were shared as we separated and headed to our homestay families. Dinners will be shared tonight, and stories tomorrow.

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Day 4, March 28, 2017

Ben Tesluk,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

We woke early in the morning to travel to Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP). The air was cold. We watched dedicated students practice basketball drills as we sped across town on the back of a pickup truck. The day began with a ceremony calling to ancestors and nahuales. The fire and the spirits using it […]

Posted On

03/30/17

Author

Ben Tesluk

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Day three saw the group leaving the beautiful city of Antigua. After a final breakfast of beans and eggs, we said goodbye to our new small friend in the hostal and departed by bus. Twisting roads took the crew to Tecpan as we admired the countryside. Lunch was buffet style. We were allowed to pick and choose from an array of Guatemalan dishes while in line. Many of us just said "todo, por favor."

Lunch left the crew energized and we all piled into the bus to finish the trip to Panajachel. Conversations and jokes ceased when we caught glimpse of the Lago de Atitlan.

We unpacked from the bus and moved to a small boat to cross the lake. Choppy waters lead to a fun (fairly wet) ride to our destination in San Lucas Toliman. See photo! We listened to Juan Skinner discuss the geological and social aspects of the lake as we sat by the coast. Getting an inside look at the science of human action in the area was invaluable. Juan sped off in his boat as we unpacked at our new hostal.

Some members played basketball with local kids while others explored the area.

 

Later that night we watched part of, and discussed, a documentary put together by Juancho. The discussion focused on the exploitation of Mayan land and people by outside powers. The night ended with silent reflection and early rest for the day ahead.

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Day 3, March 27, 2017

Jordan Hamada,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

Day three saw the group leaving the beautiful city of Antigua. After a final breakfast of beans and eggs, we said goodbye to our new small friend in the hostal and departed by bus. Twisting roads took the crew to Tecpan as we admired the countryside. Lunch was buffet style. We were allowed to pick […]

Posted On

03/29/17

Author

Jordan Hamada

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    [post_content] => The first day of our Guatemala adventure was filled with plane rides, airport food, and drowsy eyes. We departed from Portland in the morning, stopped in Denver in the afternoon, and Houston in the evening where we watched our Ducks basketball team secure a spot in the Final Four. After the three plane rides, we landed in Guatemala City and were greeted by our two amazing instructors, Juancho and Brian. An hour or so later, late into the night, we found ourselves getting off a bus at Hostal Antigueño in the cobblestone street city of Antigua. 16 hours later, it was time to get some sleep.

On the second day, we began the morning sipping coffee under the sun of the hostal's open area, attempting to the grasp the full realization that we were in Guatemala. It was the first time we had seen Guatemala in the daylight. After orientation activities, we wandered through the cobblestone streets, observing the Antiguan city life, until we arrived at lunch. On the way back, one of our gracious instructors, Juancho, took us to his mother's ice cream shop. She served dairy-free, organic flavors such as aguacate (avocado) and elote (corn). Once back, we stood along the street to watch and admire the procession that took place that Sunday. In lent, it is common to see processions of Catholic symbols carried by parish members through the streets as locals lay out beautiful and intricate designs along the route with flowers, pine needles, and colored sawdust in celebration of the coming Holy Week. (See photos!) It was eye-opening and genuine. The people had a true devotion and life-long commitment to their religion. Young girls marched carrying the procession, knees bent, shoulders aching, suffering in the way Jesus their savior did.

Later in the day, we collectively decided on what we hoped to get out of the weeklong adventure and individuals shared their life stories.

Through bonding of our group and the interactions with Guatemala, Sunday was an impeccable beginning to our trip.
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Day 1-2, March 25-26, 2017

Jordan Hamada,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

The first day of our Guatemala adventure was filled with plane rides, airport food, and drowsy eyes. We departed from Portland in the morning, stopped in Denver in the afternoon, and Houston in the evening where we watched our Ducks basketball team secure a spot in the Final Four. After the three plane rides, we […]

Posted On

03/28/17

Author

Jordan Hamada

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    [post_content] => U of O has arrived in Antigua and their adventure has officially begun! More updates coming soon.
    [post_title] => Arrival!
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Arrival!

Sara,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

U of O has arrived in Antigua and their adventure has officially begun! More updates coming soon.

Posted On

03/26/17

Author

Sara

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    [post_content] => Hello again everyone!

I hope things are going well since we last hung out. It was so fun getting to know you all. Connecting students always gets me fired up for courses.

As you can see your Yak Board is now up and running. I don't feel the need to introduce myself because we already majorly bonded in person. I'll just add that I currently write you from Mexico. I'll be in this amazing country and then the amazing countries of Nicaragua and Guatemala until our course begins. Being able to travel like this is a privilege that I am understanding every day more and more.

I want to challenge you all to reflect on this kind of thing as well in the time between now and our time together in Guatemala. As we did in January, think of your experiences visiting other communities or hosting visitors from communities other than your own. How can you be the best possible guest to our Guatemalan hosts? How can you be the best possible global citizen for the rest of your life? I look forward to discussing this ideas with you all and learning from each one of you.

Also, today I observed a protest in Mexico City against different government abuses: the disrespect these Mexicans feel from the US government, the failures of which they accuse their own president, the corruption they see in their local governments, and more. They reminded me of stories I heard at the Women's March in Los Angeles and a rally at the White House against the restriction on visas for citizens of seven African and Asian countries. I remind you of what Amanda said to us, that we are all Americans. I look forward to exploring that which divides and unites us Estadounidenses and our Guatemalan hosts.

Until then, feel free to use this forum to be in contact with me and Juancho and loop us into conversations you are having or questions that are on your mind. Take care amigxs!

Brian

p.s. this picture is me on top of Tajumulco, a Guatemalan wonder indeed! It is Central America's highest point and the views of it from below and of below from the summit make me grateful of my privilege to travel every time I think of them. We almost definitely won't get to see Tajumulco but will receive plenty of other fantastic gifts from Guatemala's landscape and people.
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Hola amigxs!

Brian Reilly,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

Hello again everyone! I hope things are going well since we last hung out. It was so fun getting to know you all. Connecting students always gets me fired up for courses. As you can see your Yak Board is now up and running. I don’t feel the need to introduce myself because we already […]

Posted On

02/13/17

Author

Brian Reilly

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    [post_date] => 2017-01-19 16:20:10
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    [post_content] => 

Friends at U of O,

How wonderful it is to welcome you to your University of Oregon and Where There Be Dragons Yak Board for “Guatemala: Relations of Exchange.”

It seems like the second semester just began, but March is quickly approaching! In a few weeks, you’ll bid adieu to the buttes of Eugene for the volcanoes of Guatemala. In addition to a change of geography and landscape, you’ll soon find yourself bouncing back and forth between time and place as you learn about Mayan cosmovision, permaculture principles, and Guatemala’s complicated history of politics, fruit, and development.  You’ll spend days and nights with homestay families who will take you in as their own upon meeting you; you’ll work with your hands and connect with the same earth that has produced milpa from ancient Mayan times; you’ll eat new things, laugh with new friends, and make sense of the experience in your own wonderful way.

And alongside you, you’ll find that this Yak board will be a powerful forum that weaves together an exquisite narrative of the collective journey you’ll be on with your U of O-Dragons community from the pre-course days, well into the field, and even after. To that end, introducing yourself on this board marks your official entrance into the course!

We are thrilled to be a part of your experience in Guatemala. To make it real, the first thing we are asking of you is an introduction. You may be well-acquainted with the folks on your course, but you may not know their expectations, excitement, goals, curiosities, and fears of your classmates, instructors, and teachers. This forum will provide the space and support to share these things. And, you’ll be amazed looking back at the end of the course and witness the ways you’ve grown and changed in just two weeks!

We are overjoyed to follow along with your adventure.

Love,

The Dragons Administration Team

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Where Ducks Meet Dragons

Dragons Administration,PARTNERSHIP: University of Oregon Guatemala

Description

Friends at U of O, How wonderful it is to welcome you to your University of Oregon and Where There Be Dragons Yak Board for “Guatemala: Relations of Exchange.” It seems like the second semester just began, but March is quickly approaching! In a few weeks, you’ll bid adieu to the buttes of Eugene for […]

Posted On

01/19/17

Author

Dragons Administration