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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011


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For those other 11 students that were with me when I went to Guatemala they knew that it was a difficult time for me. It was obvious right from the start htat I was the kid whos parents just didnt want to send them to Europe for another summer. At the beginning of the trip everyime we would go somewhere that was dirty, poor, or simply too different I would quietly complain. At least I thought it was quietly. Then I realized that other peole were picking up on my negative habits. I did not realize the effect that I could have on those around me. I remember the first homestay that we did in Pachaj. My family lived in a tiny house with a mom, dad, a little girl, a little boy, two dogs, two cats, and four roosters. There was poop everywhere, roosters were following me into the bathroom, the shower was a bucket, and to top it off my host mom was not a very good cook. So every morning when I would get back with my group I would tell Chelsea, Maggie, Chavella, and Bianca how much I hated my family. I would tell them about how there was poop on the kitchen table and I though I was going to vomit or how all I had drank was coffee because they didn't have clean water. Everyday the stories would get worse and worse. The last night with my family I sat around with them a little bit longer at the dinner table. They started to tell me jokes, and the story of how my host parents met, and about their lives. Then my little sister and brother watched television and played games with me all night long. It was then that I realized they weren't an awful family. In fact they were amamzing! They were generous and had given me the main bedroom, and were doing everything that they could to make me feel comfortable. I was the one who was mean to them. I will always regret that I didn't learn more about my family and talk with the as much as I could. Even though throughout the rest of the trip it was still difficult for me to adjust my the end of every situation I was able to do it.

While I would still my friends that I hated it and just wanted to go back home as the time progresed I kne that it wasnt true. One day Maggie said to me that if I had the money I would leave. I joked along with her that it was true but in reality it wasn't true. I didn't wasnt to leave my new friends or this country that had taught me so much. The fact that everyone thought that I wanted to leave was painful. SO I tried as best as I could to show everyone that I was having a great time. By the end of it it worked. Everyone noticed how much I had changed from the beginning of the trip to the end.

So as a heads up to any parents who just don't want to send their kid to Europe again send them to Guatemala. Even though it will be one of the most difficult experiences of their lives it will make them appreciate everything that they have.

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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Looking Back

Nya Wilkins,Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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For those other 11 students that were with me when I went to Guatemala they knew that it was a difficult time for me. It was obvious right from the start htat I was the kid whos parents just didnt want to send them to Europe for another summer. At the beginning of the trip […]

Posted On

04/15/12

Author

Nya Wilkins

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Dear Family and Friends,

Today after an early morning departure from Antigua, we are pleased to announce that all students boarded their international flight headed for Miami. After a week of transference, in which students were mentally preparing for their return home, the day finally came to say "adios" to Guatemala. There were tears and hugs in the airport as the reality of re-entry really settled in. We know that all of you parents and friends are excited and anxious to see your loved ones. They will have lots to share and we know that your support will take them through the re-entry process. We thank you again for the trust you put in us, we had a wonderful course.

Sincerely,

Eva, Nate and Luis

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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Returning Home

Luis, Nate and Eva,Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

Description

Dear Family and Friends, Today after an early morning departure from Antigua, we are pleased to announce that all students boarded their international flight headed for Miami. After a week of transference, in which students were mentally preparing for their return home, the day finally came to say "adios" to Guatemala. There were tears and […]

Posted On

07/28/11

Author

Luis, Nate and Eva

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As our trip is coming to a close we all saw Cotzal, a small remote village in the Ixil triangle that was hard hit during the Civil War, as the last real challenge in this amazing journey through Guatemala. We arrive and are greeted by a group of children. We walk with our backpacks to the weaving co-op for women affected by the Civil War. We are greeted by a group of 15 women, most over the age of 50. We are greeted and then assigned to one of the women. I walk with my host mother, who has a year old son wrapped to her back, and her two of her daughters, who continually smile and giggle with each other. We leave the paved road and walk along a river. We arrive at my house and my mother points to a small corrugated metal hut with a sheet for a door and says "baño." For the next three nights this will be my bathroom.

We walk into my house and I am greeted by a small boy whose name is Miguel, which is also my Spanish name. My host mother shows me my bed, which is separated from the rest of the room by a sheet hung from the ceiling. I am given a mug of coffee and a piece of bread. I sit in the kitchen drinking coffee, which in my entire life I have never been able to do before, and listen to my mother talk with her sons and daughters in Ixil, a Mayan language.

After finishing my coffee I go to my bed and try to finish my book. At the present time I feel rather excluded from the workings of the family because the one common language that we speak is Spanish, and for all of us it is a second language.

Miguel walks over with a baseball and asks if I want to play. For the next hour we play catch in the house with a Boston Red Sox baseball. More members of my family enter until the room is filled with seven kids. As we play catch I see the simplest activity giving the kids the most amount of enjoyment I have seen in a long time, or they might just be laughing at me.

The next night I inflate my soccer ball and we play games of soccer in the tiny house. Again is see such a simple form of enjoyment light of the lives of a family, and I go to bed being very happy because of the happiness that I have seen in their eyes.

On the last night, after having a small dance party in the co-op,I walk home with Miguel on my shoulders. We arrive home and Miguel, his little sister, and I have a tickle war and I continually throw Miguel onto my shoulders.

At dinner I give my host father some gifts, some lavender soaps, some smoked salmon, and a few other trinkets. He continually puts his hand on my shoulder and says things in a very serious voice. I can barely understand what he is saying, but I feel like it is something really deep. I catch at one point during the night him saying that I am part of his family. I have no idea how to respond.

I pull out my camera to capture the house. I ask Miguel if he wants to take some pictures. He takes the camera and struggles to take the pictures. His older brother takes the camera and for the next half hour I am in the middle of a photo shoot.

I then go to my bag and pack up for my early departure in the morning. I am sad to be saying goodbye right after everyone has started talking with me, but I know there are many more memories to come.

At 5 in the morning I put on my backpack and say goodbye to the family, I walk into my parents room and say goodbye to a sleeping Miguel, exhausted after a night of excitement and because it is 5 in the morning.

As we get into the microbus to head towards Tikal I think of all of the great memories that I have had in such a small and simple house. There is no need for a game system or a TV, just a group of warm hearted kids and maybe a Boston Red Socks baseball.

PS Thanks you to the person who gave the family the Baseball.

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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Warm Hearted Kids and a Boston Red Sox Baseball

Michael Reeve,Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

Description

As our trip is coming to a close we all saw Cotzal, a small remote village in the Ixil triangle that was hard hit during the Civil War, as the last real challenge in this amazing journey through Guatemala. We arrive and are greeted by a group of children. We walk with our backpacks to […]

Posted On

07/27/11

Author

Michael Reeve

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Queridos padres y madres, abuelos y abuelas, tios y tias, hermanos y hermanos y amigos y amigas,

Dear fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters and friends,

We are sitting in Finca Ixobel - our second-to-last stop on our journey - meeting with students in three-on-ones, finding out from them how this short, four-week course has influenced their lives and outlook.

Students have shared with us their gratitude toward the people in their lives back at home, and said some amazing things about the important people - you! - that gave them this opportunity. We’d love to share some with you.

From students:

“I feel grateful that my parents have been amazing role models. I am grateful that my parents have always believed in me.”

“Without you I would not be here. Thank you with all my love.”

“I am grateful for the many travels that have left me open to other people, and for the education I have received.”

“I am grateful that my parents supported me to go on this trip and had faith in my success even when I did not.”

“I’m grateful they allow me to venture off, but also knowing I can come home when I need comfort.”

“This is the best decision they’ve ever made for me!”

We would like to thank friends and families for the trust you’ve put in us as instructors. We know that it is hard to go with little communication with your loves ones this summer. This has been an incredible course. We have grown very close to each student. We have seen them grow daily and rise to each new challenge.

This summer we have met inspiring people (Armando with the Chico Mendes project in particular), watched sometimes inspiring and sometimes shocking documentaries (“No Impact Man” and “Collapse” were especially thought-provoking), and experienced a life in a culture that is both similar to and different from our own . Students have been exposed to a LOT of new ideas and concepts. Some changes might be received with a sigh: “finally!” Other ideas might be new to parents and friends still.

Here are some ways that some students have changed as a result of their experiences in Guatemala:

“When I come home, you can expect me to love the dryer that doesn’t work and the pipes that always clang.“

“Traveling is a bug. Be prepared for me to want to leave not too long after.”

“I’m a lot more focused, I have a sense of awareness about the foods I want to eat and things I want to buy.”

“I want to warn you I might express my awareness for the environment more often than the times I used to litter.”

“I’m different in that I have gained a sense of responsibility for my planet.”

“I grew up in a house where we use more plastic watter bottles and electricity than hotels do in a week. That’s gonna change the second I get back. That and so much more.”

Please understand that students have gone through a transformative experience this summer. Expect them to be different in big and small ways, in ways visible and invisible. Celebrate these changes with them! It can be hard to intregate these lessons into their life at home.

A huge, warm thank you to the Dragons administration, to supportive parents, friends and family, and of course to our students. This was a special group and a very meaningful summer for us. We hope to stay in touch with each and every student.

Hasta luego!

Los instructores
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Best Notes From The Field, Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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A Message for Family and Friends

los instructores,Best Notes From The Field, Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

Description

Queridos padres y madres, abuelos y abuelas, tios y tias, hermanos y hermanos y amigos y amigas, Dear fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters and friends, We are sitting in Finca Ixobel – our second-to-last stop on our journey – meeting with students in three-on-ones, finding out from them […]

Posted On

07/26/11

Author

los instructores

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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The Things We're Leaving Behind…

los instructores,Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

Description

Posted On

07/26/11

Author

los instructores

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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Ducks

Ansley Bolick,Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

Description

When I got to my homestay in Cotzal, I was in a panic zone. Theextremely basic conditions and dirt floors had me wondering if I was going to be alright through the short three nights we were there. Would I be able to subsist on black beans and black coffee every day? Would I simply […]

Posted On

07/25/11

Author

Ansley Bolick

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The wonderful pancake recipe from Larissa at Quetzal Trekkers: please make only when alive awake alert and enthusiastic...

2 cps flour

2 tspns baking powder

1 tspn salt

1 cup of brown sugar

a lot of cinnamon, "when you think there is enough put more"-Larissa

1 egg or blend banana in place of egg for vegan pancakes

Then add water and a bit of oil until goopy and watery

also this only makes about three pancakes so double or triple the recipe as wished...

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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Pancakes: because we are alive awake alert and enthusiastic!

Caitlin Cain,Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

Description

The wonderful pancake recipe from Larissa at Quetzal Trekkers: please make only when alive awake alert and enthusiastic… 2 cps flour 2 tspns baking powder 1 tspn salt 1 cup of brown sugar a lot of cinnamon, "when you think there is enough put more"-Larissa 1 egg or blend banana in place of egg for […]

Posted On

07/25/11

Author

Caitlin Cain

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Everything is winding down. You would think that there are still tortillas to eat, places to see, and more travel to be done. It is surreal really everything ending. It seems sudden but it is here in just three nights. So we have transference and we are all attempting to reflect on this trip, which is harder than you might think, for me at least. Because so much has happened here. I mean just last week I was in this crazy rural village, and might I say the most beautiful and welcoming crazy rural village I have ever been apart of. This was for those of you in America San Juan Cotzal, a place of beauty amongst the beans and mountain rain. My homestay there was certainly the most interesting I had so far. They claimed to only speak Ixil, the Mayan language, and that made communication difficult. But there was something captivating about it, communicating without speech. If you could have seen me you would have laughed at my aggravated body motions trying to get a point across. So there was definitely something learned about non-verbal communication. And farming, I definitely experience farming at literally a grass roots level. We planted beans with the women of Cotzal for two days from morning until the rain would come. Then we would drink arroz con chocolate and talk about immigration in a warm room. It was probably still raining, but I loved the rain. Actually after about two hours of working I longed for the patter of raindrops on the floor. Also in Cotzal I tried this new food. I do not quite recall what it was called, but it was maiz wrapped in a green leaf and topped with this orange sauce. That was the best corn dish I have ever eaten. And I expected not to like it because corn has not really been my thing, but then I ate so many of those green leafy goodness capsules of corn. Anyways, basically all this is amounting to is my mixed feelings about returning home. It is going to be harder to leave this place than I expected, this is not to say I do not love you my American people. I am quite excited to see you actually- mixed feelings, mixed feelings…

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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San Juan Cotzal… and more

Caitlin Cain,Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

Description

Everything is winding down. You would think that there are still tortillas to eat, places to see, and more travel to be done. It is surreal really everything ending. It seems sudden but it is here in just three nights. So we have transference and we are all attempting to reflect on this trip, which […]

Posted On

07/25/11

Author

Caitlin Cain

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Hola a todos!

Ya nos fuimos de Cotzal - we have left Cotzal, and are writing to you from "El Remate." It is expedition phase, and students are in charge of the logistics, including transportation, accommodation, food and activities, and thus are well on their way toward gaining the skills to become safe and independent travelers.

Looking back on our time in Cotzal, it appears a blip - a quick three-night stopover - but as we think about its effect it had on us, it is disproportionately huge. Students found themselves in a very different community than the one they had come from in the States. We rose early, worked in the fields all morning, ate picknicked lunch on the field, continued to work, and then returned in the afternoon for development lessons. Our first afternoon was themed immigration, and we met with a man who went "mojado" to the United States by way of Mexico, to come to know this perilous journey and the reasons many Latin Americans feel it is worth it to make it. The next afternoon we learned about Rigoberta Menchu and the affects of the civil war on the three communities Nebaj, Cotzal, and Chajul that form the Ixil triangle.

We had a goodbye party with the members of the woman's cooperative. It was a time for truly touching speeches, given by our students and community members alike. Although many of the speeches were in Ixil and we had to have Pedro, our homestay coordinator, translate the details, the sentiment behind them could be clearly felt.

For our community service project we rented 6 "cuerdas" or plots of land. 4 of them went from overgrown with weeds to tilled, fertilized and planted! We left Cotzal feeling like we made a substantive impact for the women of the weaving cooperative. When the beans are picked, the cooperative will divide them up between all the members based on need.

Only a week remains, but we look forward to the experiences and lessons learned ahead!

Los instructores,

Pepe, Luis y Evita

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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Planting frijoles in Cotzal

los instructores,Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

Description

Hola a todos! Ya nos fuimos de Cotzal – we have left Cotzal, and are writing to you from "El Remate." It is expedition phase, and students are in charge of the logistics, including transportation, accommodation, food and activities, and thus are well on their way toward gaining the skills to become safe and independent […]

Posted On

07/22/11

Author

los instructores

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    [post_content] => During the past week in Xela, our group has had access to many of the comforts we enjoy at home- hot showers, restaraunts, and a generally comfortable environment. Somehow, being around all of this had me tricked into thinking that people in Xela lived very similarly to the way we do in the US. I thought this until yesterday, when I went with my Spanish teacher and another student to tour a large hospital in the city. The first thing we noticed was the smell- the hospital lacked the smell of disinfectant characteristic of American hospitals. This was only the first of many unexpected things that we observed. Rooms had eight to ten beds each, with no sort of curtains in between. And that was the thing- they only had beds. No heart monitors or IVs beeping away behing each patient. My teacher told me that, with the serious lack of medicine in Guatemala, a hospital often can only provide a bed and a doctor. Seeing the rooms full of patients that weren't able to have all of the medication they needed and the rugged, basic equipment that the hsopital had was certainly a reminder to me that, no matter how comfortable we've started feeling here in Xela, we are still a long, long way from the life we are used to. 
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Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

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Xela and ISP

Ansley Bolick,Guatemala: Mundo Maya 4 week "A", Summer 2011

Description

During the past week in Xela, our group has had access to many of the comforts we enjoy at home- hot showers, restaraunts, and a generally comfortable environment. Somehow, being around all of this had me tricked into thinking that people in Xela lived very similarly to the way we do in the US. I […]

Posted On

07/17/11

Author

Ansley Bolick

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