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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011


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    [post_content] => ¨Sure, of course you can live with a family with kids,¨they told me, and so that´s what I expected. An hour later I found myself walking home with a 72-year old toothless cat lady who lives alone. Usually I wouldnt have had a bad attitude about this but I had gotten a little caught up in a dream of playing with my little host siblings and drawing and laughing and even a scene of us crying when we had to go our seperate ways. So yeah, I was a little upset. On the walk home this cat lady named Salvadora told me I was her 6th homestay daughter this year, so I felt like more of a source of income than a family member. And so that´s the attitude I had entering my homestay.

Over the first day or two this attitude changed though, as I realized my impression of her was wrong. She told me one night at dinner about how her husband had died when she was 40, leaving her with 8 kids to raise on her own. She spent her days working and her nights cooking and cleaning, but she never felt sorry for herself- she was her mother and that was her job. Now seven of her eight kids are married ahd have started their own families, her eighth sone still lives with her btu is gone working in Xela from before she wakes until after she goes to sleep. She prepares his meals for him ahead of time so the table is set for him when he returns.At first I felt bad for her as she told me her story, I fuond myself appologizing even though I personally had nothing to appologize for. But she told me not to worry about it, that everything was fine. The sincerity in her voice confused me.

The next morning she woke me up with breakfast already prepared. She took my dirty laundry to wash while I was away at work and in school, refusing any help I offered. When I showed the slightese sign of a stomach ache she ran off to the store worriedly to buy me bread. It all confused me, that she seemed to want to work and didn´t want any help. It took me a while to realzie that she misses being a mother. She dedicated herself to her children and got in such a routine of work and rasing her kids that she feels lost without them. She appreciated my being there so she could be a mother again just as much as I had developed an appreciation for her taking me as her child. The rest of the week went on this way, us appreciating eachother. My conversations with her where never quite that interesting, what is a 16 year old city girl who´s allergic to cats supposed to talk about 72 year old Guatemalan who´s obssesd with her 5 cats? But when she tuaght me to see may be the most rewarding lesson I´ve learned:

I constantly found myself admiring Salvadora- how her husband had died and how she had dedicated herself to her children. She had done what I though was impossible. ´She is woman,´ I thought. And then one night she asked about my own mother and father. I found myself sharing an equally admirable story- how my father had died and how my mom had raised me. I may not be 8 kids but she had treated me as though I were- working tireleslly so as to never deny me an opportunity or potential to grow. She has dedicated herself to me as Salvadora did to her family. I guess I´ve always known that, and it´s not that I don´t realize how hard she works for me but it´s always been like that so I´ve never really experienced the difference. But there I was looking at Salvadora as some sort of super human, idolizing her while my own mother had done the exact same for me. I found myself admiring a woman who took care of myself for 6 days while there´s a woman at home who has dedicated herself to me for 16 years. Salvadora taught me that my own mom is my hero.
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Best Notes From The Field, Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011, Homestay

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The Lesson

Denali Tietjen,Best Notes From The Field, Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011, Homestay

Description

¨Sure, of course you can live with a family with kids,¨they told me, and so that´s what I expected. An hour later I found myself walking home with a 72-year old toothless cat lady who lives alone. Usually I wouldnt have had a bad attitude about this but I had gotten a little caught up […]

Posted On

08/4/11

Author

Denali Tietjen

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    [post_content] => Our group seems to turn every question into some philosophical discussion. Someone will say "Can you believe we only have 10 days left?" "Well what IS time anyways?" And then the group goes off on a tangent about how time is all relative and we could all die at any moment. So, to prevent some philosophical debate regarding this Yak, I have decided to measure time in terms of tortillas. 3 tortillas at breakfast, 3 at lunch and 4 at dinner= 10 tortillas a day. 31 days=310 tortillas thus far, 100 remaining. Our relationship with the tortilla is complicated to say the least. After the first 3 weeks of "typico" at every meal, beans, rice and tortillas was a meal we wanted never again. Little did we know that after 3 days in the modern city of Xela, we would find ourselves missing the company of the tortilla. And maybe that's what this trip is about- fully submersing yourself into a culture so you can compare it with your own and realize what it is that really brings you happiness. Maybe we'll realize that we are satisfied with our lives now, that we have already found true happiness in things at home. But maybe, and what seems more likely to me, we'll realize that there is happiness in more simpler things such as a tortilla and we'll continue this pursuit of happiness. Now those of you reading this Yak back in the States probably can't see how 100 tortillas is too few. In fact, you're probably disgusted at the thought of eating 100 tortillas in the next week. But it's more than just the tortilla. It's your homestay mom cooking all day so the tortillas are fresh before each meal. It's your sister getting up in the middle of dinner to make more before you run out. It's your mom waking you up early to learn how to make them and laughing while handing you more dough after you drop yours for the second time that morning. It's not the food its the culture. So yes, to us, 100 tortillas remaining is too few.
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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

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410 Tortillas

Denali Tietjen,Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

Description

Our group seems to turn every question into some philosophical discussion. Someone will say "Can you believe we only have 10 days left?" "Well what IS time anyways?" And then the group goes off on a tangent about how time is all relative and we could all die at any moment. So, to prevent some […]

Posted On

07/28/11

Author

Denali Tietjen

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Here is just another quick video of the "sick group" leaving Xela in the back of a pickup truck. The link is below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOVeczrZYOk

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

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The Outskirts of Xela

Eric Passmore,Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

Description

Here is just another quick video of the "sick group" leaving Xela in the back of a pickup truck. The link is below:

Posted On

07/26/11

Author

Eric Passmore

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    [post_title] => GUATE 6!
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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

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GUATE 6!

Guate Seis Group,Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

Description

Posted On

07/26/11

Author

Guate Seis Group

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    [post_content] => We loaded into a small cramped van that would take us to a small corn field town called Pechaj, located about twenty minutes from Xela. We would leave behind the busy city life and enter into the country where we wouldjoin our new familes and meet the the infamous Armando, a man of knowledge deep appreciation, and concernfor all of Guatemala's environment. When we arrived at Armando's house we entered a large brightly lit courtyard.We weregreeted by a group of women wearing beautiful traditional clothing and little kids laughing by their sides. In eager anticipation and excitiment we eagerly awaited to meet our new familes andbecome aquainted with Pechaj. The people greeted us with open arms and big smiles. We were introduced to the town with a welcoming dance by some of the women. We then continued with some get to know you games by going around and saying all our names. Armando then gave us a welcoming introduction with his comical and genuinedisposition. We were then placed with our families and carried ourbelongings back to ournew homes. Here is my family.One mother one father and two children. My mother is named Kati, she is twenty and one of my brothers who is two is named Paco, who likes to repeat what you say. I am called Nati at my home. My home is located a few minutes from Armando's house, which I guess you could say is an advantage considering others are much further. After dropping off our belongings we made our way back to Armando's home, where we enjoyed a delicious typical meal called pepian. After lunch Armando led us to the fields where we would be working to planttrees and learn about his project Chico Mendes. Welearned that Chico Mendes just celebrated its12th birthday and is driven by the constant drive and determination ofvolunteer groups like ourselves who come to help. Armando's main goal is the reforestation and health of Guatemala's trees. He emphasized how important it is to know that everyone has the right to clean air, clean water and a good environment to live in. He wanted us to take with us the fact that what we accomplishinout time in Pechajand the trees that we plant will benefit generations to come. The environment in Pechaj has been nothing but generosity and kindness. Being here in Pechaj has been an incredible experience so far and I am eager to continute our hard work with Armando and takingSpanish classes along the way.
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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

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Pechaj

Natalya Pulaski,Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

Description

We loaded into a small cramped van that would take us to a small corn field town called Pechaj, located about twenty minutes from Xela. We would leave behind the busy city life and enter into the country where we wouldjoin our new familes and meet the the infamous Armando, a man of knowledge deep […]

Posted On

07/24/11

Author

Natalya Pulaski

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None of us really wanted to leave Xela, the touristy, crowded, second largest city of Guatemala. We enjoyed the time together in the little hostel that we called home for four days. We also enjoyed the large variety of food, some very similar to the United States, and of course, the Chocobananas. We felt like we hadn't explored Xela enough, and we didn't want to go straight into our longest homestay that suddenly. All of that changed as we drove into Pachaj.

We were met with field after field of corn under an open blue sky. We drove past the little tiendas, houses, and cows on the street. In the distance were beautiful, large rolling hills. We got out of the van at the service project, Chico Mendez, which is also the house of the founder, Armando Lopez. It is a open house with a large meeting area under a tarp. We walked inside to find that all of our host mothers were already there.

The ladies greeted us with a name game and atraditional dance. Throughout the interaction, we all laughed nervously with excitement. Then Armando talked about his project and what we would do in our stay there. Then we were paired up with our host mothers. This small invitation reminded us why we were in Guatemala, why we had signed up for this trip in the first place. We were here to work and learn and help. We couldn't wait to get started.

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

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Arriving in Pachaj

Sally Morton,Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

Description

None of us really wanted to leave Xela, the touristy, crowded, second largest city of Guatemala. We enjoyed the time together in the little hostel that we called home for four days. We also enjoyed the large variety of food, some very similar to the United States, and of course, the Chocobananas. We felt like […]

Posted On

07/24/11

Author

Sally Morton

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It has become ritual in our program to create space for each one of us to share something that we were grateful for during the day. Students give appreciation for people they met that day, their host families, a moment they shared with nature, and so much more. Each time we circle up to give thanks I find myself overwhelmed with things I am grateful for; Guatemala for being such a beautiful country whose people never cease to amaze me with their genuine kindness and open hearts. The many moments along the way that I feel truly alive, the new things I have learned, and the moments of silence in nature, and of course the privilege I have grown up with.

But above all, we as instructors are overwhelmed with a sense of appreciation towards the incredible students we have the privilege of working with this summer. We are thankful for the giant smile that Sally always has on her face (even after having a small child vomit on her during a chicken bus), as well as her enthusiasm to learn new things. We are thankful for Nick’s sense of humor and positive attitude towards challenging situations. We are grateful for all the information that Eric brings to the group, about economics and so much more. We appreciate Mile’s sharing small pieces of himself and his experience here though his poetry and great comments during discussions. We are grateful for Craig’s ability to put a smile on everyone’s face as well as show genuine compassion for all of us. We are thankful for Denali’s willingness to dive into the Guatemalan culture and make amazing connections with people she meets along the way. We are grateful for Danny’s ability to take great pictures of the trip as well as his enthusiasm to experience Guatemala to the fullest. We appreciate the positive energy and big heart that Pat brings to the trip. We feel lucky to have Steadman with us to share his knowledge about natural medicine, and his enthusiasm for homestays. We are grateful to Natalya for the many massages, and her kind nature. We are thankful to have Anna, who shares her unique perspectives on life so openly.

We are a very eclectic group of people who have been brought together by a desire to explore the word and ourselves. We come from so many different backgrounds and our interests and lives back home seem so diverse that it may seem surprising that we have come together to be such great friends and mentors. One of the things that make us grateful to be in Guatemala with this wonderful group of students is that we are able to learn so much from each and every one of them. They all bring a special something that contributes to the experience of the group as a whole, and promotes space for us all to grow as a result of our experiences here.

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

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Gratitude

Ariel Storch,Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

Description

It has become ritual in our program to create space for each one of us to share something that we were grateful for during the day. Students give appreciation for people they met that day, their host families, a moment they shared with nature, and so much more. Each time we circle up to give […]

Posted On

07/21/11

Author

Ariel Storch

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So this might be a bit late, but this is our first chicken bus experience ever! Just so you get an idea of how cramped we were, everyone was packed into the aisle with our packs.

Here is the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXQTDpao87w

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

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Our First Chicken Bus Experience

Daniel Chang,Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

Description

So this might be a bit late, but this is our first chicken bus experience ever! Just so you get an idea of how cramped we were, everyone was packed into the aisle with our packs. Here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXQTDpao87w

Posted On

07/20/11

Author

Daniel Chang

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    [post_content] => She speaks in a raspy voice, her face lined from a constant smile. We sit in the mud pulling weeds. At first she tells me she doesn't speak Spanish, but I later realize she is just timid in her language skills, as I was in the beginning of the trip, for she answers my questions fluidly. Her daughter skips over to helps us. She too smiles widely, an inheritance from her mother. I wonder why she works with the elderly women in the Coop for she is too young to have been directly affected by the war as were the other women in the field, now widows, plating the beans that will single handedly feed their families through the winter. I wait to ask though, I figure I should ease into the intense questions. However, as we begin talking about her family and her four children, she offers me her story. She and her husband are divorced, something common in the states but almost unheard of in Guatemala. Out of the thousands of couples living in Cotzal, she couldn't count the divorced ones on one hand. He now owns a second hand clothing store but refuses to even support his children with clothes. She lives off 2 dollars a day from the CoOp, supporting her family of 5. She tells me all of this with the most admirable attitude, not with pain or disgrace but she explains it as her reality. She sees no reason to dwell on the negative, she accepts it. I imagine her at home with her children, struggling to feed them and clothe them. Yet she's here smiling and laughing as if everything's fine. This is how all the women are. One shares her story of how both her husbands were killed in the war, her 2 month old son died from the trauma. However, she too smiles as she tells her painful story. Although her pain is not apparent, she has experienced more trauma than any of us. Yet she has handled her experiences better than us all. But this is how all Guatemalans are. They don't forget but they forgive. Those same women whose husbands and sons were killed in the Civil War do not hold a grudge against us Americans, instead they welcome us into their home and treat us as family. They treat us with love when they have the right to hate. They're happy.
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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

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COTZAL

Denali Tietjen,Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

Description

She speaks in a raspy voice, her face lined from a constant smile. We sit in the mud pulling weeds. At first she tells me she doesn’t speak Spanish, but I later realize she is just timid in her language skills, as I was in the beginning of the trip, for she answers my questions […]

Posted On

07/19/11

Author

Denali Tietjen

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAAp3Wm0xcA

Recentlywe stayed with families in Coatzal, Guatemala. One of the kids in the video is my little brother who wanted to teach me how to play soccer. Basically, first to three goals wins. A goal constitutes as a I put up a pretty decent fight as goalie, but it's really difficult to play, epecially considering that it's on such a steep grade! I really bonded with this family despite the living conditions, and living like this really teaches one that, while material objects may be nice, all that really matters is that there is a family that loves and supports them.

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Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

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How To Play Soccer with No Field or Level Surface

Eric Passmore,Guatemala: Mundo Maya, Summer 2011

Description

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAAp3Wm0xcA Recentlywe stayed with families in Coatzal, Guatemala. One of the kids in the video is my little brother who wanted to teach me how to play soccer. Basically, first to three goals wins. A goal constitutes as a I put up a pretty decent fight as goalie, but it’s really difficult to play, epecially […]

Posted On

07/19/11

Author

Eric Passmore

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