Photo of the Week
Guatemala 6-week
Photo Title


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    [post_date] => 2014-08-08 10:23:56
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    [post_content] => Guate 6 is done, every one is going home right now, carrying  amazing landscapes in their bags, 14 new friends and unforgettable experiences ! Thanks for all beatiful people, Guatemala always will be your home. ! Bless !!!
    [post_title] => Going home
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Going home

I team ,Guatemala 6-week

Description

Guate 6 is done, every one is going home right now, carrying  amazing landscapes in their bags, 14 new friends and unforgettable experiences ! Thanks for all beatiful people, Guatemala always will be your home. ! Bless !!!

Posted On

08/8/14

Author

I team

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_content] => Guate-6 is coming to a close. It's been an unforgettable trip filled with so many new experiences, a few tears, and plenty of laughs. From our different homestays to our stays in the different hostels throughout the country, we've definitely come a long way. We're all thankful for everything that's happened so far, and we look forward to putting what we've learned to good use.

While we can't say we have all changed completely (old habits tend to die hard), we can say we will come home with a sense of incredible gratefulness. Thank you, friends and family, for supporting us and getting to know us through the Yak Board and hearing about our adventures. We look forward to sharing more stories in person very soon!
    [post_title] => The End is Nigh
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Guatemala 6-week

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The End is Nigh

Joan Binalinbing & Molly Gump,Guatemala 6-week

Description

Guate-6 is coming to a close. It’s been an unforgettable trip filled with so many new experiences, a few tears, and plenty of laughs. From our different homestays to our stays in the different hostels throughout the country, we’ve definitely come a long way. We’re all thankful for everything that’s happened so far, and we […]

Posted On

08/7/14

Author

Joan Binalinbing & Molly Gump

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_content] => The boat pulled into the public dock, swaying back in forth in the light blue waves. Rather than buildings of typical Guatemalan houses (cement walls with vibrantly colored roofing), I was greeted by straw huts with signs advertising foods at high prices.

The first thing I saw on the street was not indigenous people walking around with their hand-woven clothing, but caucasian people, speaking in English, strolling around the island. Every street was lined with locals trying to sell their touristy-clothing with shirts like "Panajachel" or with plastic Mayan masks painted in a woodish color.

The weirdest part was walking into a store. Rather than attract the glances of all the people in the store for my absurd hair color and pale skin, people kept their heads down and didn't even take a quick glance. The shop owner even said, in English, but with a heavy Guatemalan accent, ¨Welcome to the store.¨

Further down the street, was a huge hotel with a European-like architecture, emphasizing on a marble floor and glassy-looking rooms. Even on the streets, people tried to sell their items in English to me. Mustering out phrases like, ¨Buy these shoes.

What this made me think of was how tourism drastically shaped an environment. The indigenous roots of Panajachel seemed to be buried under the flashy new clothing and fast food cafes. Even the Spanish language was dismissed by the natives for English, for a better chance of making money with the tourists.
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Guatemala 6-week

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Tourism Experience

Will Campbell,Guatemala 6-week

Description

The boat pulled into the public dock, swaying back in forth in the light blue waves. Rather than buildings of typical Guatemalan houses (cement walls with vibrantly colored roofing), I was greeted by straw huts with signs advertising foods at high prices. The first thing I saw on the street was not indigenous people walking […]

Posted On

08/5/14

Author

Will Campbell

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_date] => 2014-08-05 17:39:58
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    [post_content] => Here is a mural that I completed while in Pachaj. We were staying with an organization called Chico Mendez that is working to protect and restore the beautiful Guatemalan environment. They have a large focus on reforestation which has a direct impact on the quality of water that runs down from the moutains that Pachaj, and most other communities, heavily rely on. Chico Mendez is an NGO, and has choosen to be that way so that the government cannot influence their projects and goals. This organization started out very small, and grew into something much bigger; it has reached outside Guatemala and into surrounding countries. They have slowly become more and more powerful, gaining respect and acknowledgement.

I have been studying Mayan Spirituality for my ISP, and have mixed it with art. Although it may not be very obvious in the photo, there is Mayan symbolism in this mural. The symbol under the tree or the "seed," is the Mayan symbol of life. The colors white, red, yellow, and blue are the four cardinal points representing the four colors of corn. White represents purity, yellow repesents the sun and harvest, red is unity and blood, and blue is the river and sky. Also, there are 13 roots underneath the tree representing the 13 Mayan Gods, and 13 months in the calendar. Next to the tree (behind me and to my left) are two plants with ten leaves each. This represents the 20 days in one mayan month. The 20th day is the day of Man. In total, there are 260 total days in the Mayan year (13x20).

Regarding the quote, it translates into: Every great tree was once a tiny seed. Its a simple message, but very powerful. It represents an ideal of Chico Mendez. I also hope that it will give hope and optomisim to the many that will read it. I have this quote in my room in my own home, and I read it frequently. I hope it will have the same effect on the people of Pachaj that  it had on me. Our role models were once children, every brilliant idea was once a passing thought, and the tiny seeds that we have planted in Pachaj will one day be massive trees bringing fresh air and water to the surrounding communities. All it takes are a few seeds and a determined mind to make a small change, one tree at a time.
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The Potential of a Tiny Seed

Ben Murphy,Picture of the Week, Guatemala 6-week

Description

Here is a mural that I completed while in Pachaj. We were staying with an organization called Chico Mendez that is working to protect and restore the beautiful Guatemalan environment. They have a large focus on reforestation which has a direct impact on the quality of water that runs down from the moutains that Pachaj, […]

Posted On

08/5/14

Author

Ben Murphy

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    [post_content] => From the moment we arrived at Lago Atitlan, I have been awestruck by the magnificence of the lake. I believe that I have a great appreciation for aesthetic beauty, and I find that when I visit really beautiful places, I often find that I really enjoy sitting and experiencing the beauty rather than thinking too much about it. I have been thinking about beauty a lot because I have been fortunate enough to be living with a family that lives no more than 50 feet from the lake, and I have spent a lot of time looking at and swimming in the water as it glistens throughout the day. I believe that beauty isn’t about what you see, but about how you react to it. Appreciating what you see and having a clear mind both enable you to see beauty. Things that may not be beautiful to everyone are generally beautiful to those who want to see beauty in what they see. Nearly a million years ago, when I was a wee young lad, at the beginning of our 6 week trip, our instructors asked us to answer the prompt, “Am I seeking understanding or making judgment?” although this sounds like a loaded question where one side is somehow worse than the other, I feel as though doing either one will be equally detrimental to experiencing beauty. To me it seems as though to judge is to find fault, undermining what you see or hear from people, creating a negative impression in your mind. However, to seek understanding can also lead to the same end although from a different angle. To understand fully, one must question, often uncovering information that may be uncomfortable or even unbearable to the viewer, also leading to a negative feeling. To seek truth, which is the point of understanding, may shatter the illusion of our reality once we discover the true nature of what we see. To judge is to seek error or find faults, or cracks, while to understand you seek truth; however, in both cases you destroy the natural element, removing part of its intrinsic beauty. For me, the only true way to see beauty is to experience it; it is the only way to truly appreciate the world’s incomprehensible beauty.
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Guatemala 6-week

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Beauty comes from within

Gedalia Schorsch,Guatemala 6-week

Description

From the moment we arrived at Lago Atitlan, I have been awestruck by the magnificence of the lake. I believe that I have a great appreciation for aesthetic beauty, and I find that when I visit really beautiful places, I often find that I really enjoy sitting and experiencing the beauty rather than thinking too […]

Posted On

08/5/14

Author

Gedalia Schorsch

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_content] => Yesterday Guate 6 had a great adventure. We all woke up early, ate breakfast with our wonderful host families and met in the parque central at 8:15 to leave for IMAP on a pickup truck.  At IMAP we had an hour long activity where we created our own compost. We learned all about the necessary components in compost and how compost can be created in many ways, from various ingredients. We made our compost using dried and brown leaves and sticks, fresh green plants, lots of water and some charcoal. After completing the activity, we hopped back on the pickup truck and drove to the main dock in San Lucas. Waiting for us there was a motorboat which we took across Lago Atitlan to Panajachel, which is one of the busiest and most toursity lake side towns. From when we arrived at 11 until 1 we had free time to explore and we were given a stipend to find lunch for ourselves. Most of us found ourselves strolling the main street, Calle Santander, which is full of cafes, shops and travel agencies. We met up at 1 for a quick check in and most of the group got into tok-toks (rickshaws) and sped to another dock where got on another boat that would take us to a company that would help us go kayaking and cliff jumping. A few dragons decided to stay behind and explore Pana even more. After a boat ride of about 10 minutes we arrived at a house right beside the lake with a bunch of kayaks in front. We all changed into bathing suits and got into the kayaks, following behind Alex, our guide. We kayaked for 25 minutes and then arrived at a cliff with many jumping off points, from 1 foot to about 30. We tied up our kayaks and got right into cliff jumping- it was one of the most accelerating things I´ve done even if I didn´t have the guts to jump from the highest cliff which all of the boys in the group did. After a while of cliff jumping we paddled back, changed, and got into another boat which took us to our meeting place. We met up with our fellow Dragons who had an incredible time exploring and all got into a boat which took us back to San Lucas. We arrived at San Lucas and had a short walk to the hotel where the instrucotrs are staying, which has a great meeting space. We finished a much delayed morning meeting, reviewed plans for the next day, reflected upon our meeting and then had 30 minutes of fame. We finished at about 7:15 and then all walked back to our homestays for dinner. We all agree that yesterday was a much needed relaxing and fun-filled day.
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Guatemala 6-week

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Panajachel

Ariela Katzman- Jacobson ,Guatemala 6-week

Description

Yesterday Guate 6 had a great adventure. We all woke up early, ate breakfast with our wonderful host families and met in the parque central at 8:15 to leave for IMAP on a pickup truck.  At IMAP we had an hour long activity where we created our own compost. We learned all about the necessary […]

Posted On

08/5/14

Author

Ariela Katzman- Jacobson

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_content] => I had never felt so out of place, and at the same time so incredibly comfortable. That was my last night at Pachaj. In any "normal" situation, I believe it is close to impossible to feel both out of place and comfortable at the same time. However, I guess one would say dancing with three native spanish teachers, and two dragons instructors on a tuesday night in rural guatemala, is far from "normal". As the rest of my friends trickled out after the dinner, I stayed behind dancing to modern salsa music, with a women I had never spoken a word with. As my friends were leaving they threw amused looks at the so obviously out of place me, dancing around in a very out of place way. Although my impulse was to join them, and watch the absurd act of our instructors trying to salsa dance, I realized that there would never be an oppurtunity quite like this one. Sure, if I traveled the world I'd be sure to find myself in another awkward dancing situation, but never again would it be with the same instructors and the same spanish teacher named Jorge who I had grown so close to in the past week. So against the judement of the more "normal" part of me, I stayed. I fed off the amused looks of my friends, rather than let them shame me away; And rather than dance tentitavely, letting my salsa partner guide me, I tried to take control. I did my best to learn the footwork. And though I may have felt absoloutly absurd doing it, there is nothing in the world that would make me regret it.
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Guatemala 6-week

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Last night in Pachaj

Jesse Kahn,Guatemala 6-week

Description

I had never felt so out of place, and at the same time so incredibly comfortable. That was my last night at Pachaj. In any “normal” situation, I believe it is close to impossible to feel both out of place and comfortable at the same time. However, I guess one would say dancing with three […]

Posted On

08/5/14

Author

Jesse Kahn

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_date] => 2014-08-05 17:31:20
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    [post_content] => My time at the lake has been filled with days inundated by its beauty. It's not hard to understand why bodies of water attract so many tourists and wealthy Guatemalans when you take a look at Lago Atitlan. Finally, yesterday, I got to swim in it.

We started our day with a satisfying but short composting activity at IMAP, and then took our boat across the lake to Panajachel. It wasn't Pana that moved me however, with its oddly quiet and tourist-catered streets. It wasn't until we got in our kayaks and were paddling towards some cliffs, without real direction or intention, that I had another glimpse of the outrageous beauty this country can provide. It's hit me in a few moments, some of which I've documented and some of which I haven't. It's when all of it comes together, when every hike and Spanish lesson is suddenly more worth it than it ever was, when I'm awash with an overwhelming sense of gratefulness for this trip and all it's provided me.

When I finally slipped into the cool lake water under the broad Guatemalan clouds, I was perfectly happy. As our trip comes to its sputtering close, it felt like one of the final moments I'll remember that sums it all up. I gazed upon the mountains and wooded hills, upon the vast expanse of intensely blue water, and up at the sprawling clouds. There's certainly something to be said for a beautiful landscape. For me, it has the power to tie together everything else. It's not that they're the best moments, but they have extreme authority in dictating how I can look at all the moments summarized in one. In those mountains I see houses, where experiences like those I've had are experienced every day, in small villages throughout this country.

Riding back from Panajachel yesterday, despite a sinking sense of queasiness, I felt liberated by these five-odd weeks spent here. The wind rushing past my face and through my hair,  I felt it was letting me go. It accepted me in Guatemala City, and it's releasing me from it's mysterious and stunning waters at Lago Atitlan. I think I'm experiencing what can only be called the beginning of closure.
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Guatemala 6-week

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Finally Submerged

Henrietta Reily,Guatemala 6-week

Description

My time at the lake has been filled with days inundated by its beauty. It’s not hard to understand why bodies of water attract so many tourists and wealthy Guatemalans when you take a look at Lago Atitlan. Finally, yesterday, I got to swim in it. We started our day with a satisfying but short […]

Posted On

08/5/14

Author

Henrietta Reily

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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    [post_date] => 2014-08-05 17:28:32
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    [post_content] => Without even realizing a 6 week trip has come down to its last 5 days and looking back so much has been done with our time here. I never really thought about it but I had obtained a bracelet or some sort of item from each homestay town. Looking at them brings back memories of the bonds forged at the towns that they came from and it reminds me that my time was not wasted. But as my journey comes close to an end I think to myself, "Am I really ready to go home?". On my last expedition trip I was gone for 2 weeks and came back with a fresh new perspective and a eagerness to get things done. But I later came to realize that during the time I was gone I may have changed but I came home to find that nothing had changed at all. I was really discouraged and I knew there was only two possibilities, either I remain strong and try to apply changes to my life back at home or I slowly ease my way back into my old life. In some ways I feel like I didn´t succeed in either options. I just sort of eased back into my old life but constantly thinking of what happened last summer waiting for an opportunity to make use of my experiences. I have no idea what will happen when I go home this summer but I just wish to make great use of my new found knowledge!
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Guatemala 6-week

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Journey Thus Far

Leonard Zeng,Guatemala 6-week

Description

Without even realizing a 6 week trip has come down to its last 5 days and looking back so much has been done with our time here. I never really thought about it but I had obtained a bracelet or some sort of item from each homestay town. Looking at them brings back memories of […]

Posted On

08/5/14

Author

Leonard Zeng

Category

Guatemala 6-week

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2014-08-05 17:26:14
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    [post_content] => Yesterday we arrived at Earth Lodge, a wonderfully relaxed space in the mountains for our group to decompress and debrief during the transference phase of our journey. We are all quite pensive as we comprehend that we will all be leaving in less than a week. We have shared so many great moments together, and the one last night was another one on that list. Here is a poem that we wrote in groups and put together to make a great summary of our trip. Each group was assigned a place that we have been and when placed in order, we see many of the activities that we have done over the last 5 and a half weeks.

We started our journey in Guatemala City. 

Guatemala City was the place that we stayed first.

Even though we are pretty dirty, what we’ve accomplished is quite pretty. 

We will try to sum it up, in the span of one small verse.

 

 

Ten days in Todos Santos, 

Everyone in the same clothes. 

We be learnin’ that espanol, 

And by the end we be speakin’ like pros.

 

 

We met some really cool women.

Their floors were made out of dirt

And their toilets were made out of stone, 

And we swathed them weave a shirt.

 

 

One day we wade tamales, 

And they told us about the war.  

Their stories were very touching, 

And so we bought some stuff from their store.

 

 

Here we are in Xela

celebrating midterm, 

A break from tortillas

and trying to learn.

 

 

Be careful of restaurants, 

Or they’ll give you as germ. 

Preparing for independence, 

it’s about to be our turn.

 

 

Climbed up Santa Maria, 

watched the volcanoes burn!

 

Yo yo yo, welcome to Pachaj. 

The Milpa was planted with semillas, 

We spent a lot of time with our families, 

Eating lots of frijol, squash, beans and tortillas.

 

 

We jumped off the cliff, 

And summoned the sacred group, 

Learning about the environment, 

Then watching Jacky play hoops.

 

 

Earth Lodge OH MY GOSH!!!

In front of this great view!!

Sitting here with all of you, 

We are a very unique crew.

                -written by Guate 6 2014

 

We have arrived at Earth Lodge, where we will stay for the remainder of our trip. We will be holding reflections on a daily basis, as well as holding 3 on 1’s with our instructors, a private space where you can share and receive personal feedback. These last few days are really a time for us to reflect and look back on our trip and try to think of ways to bring what we have learned to the United Sates in ways that will improve our lives and those around us. I am very upset because I know I only have a little bit of time left with such an incredible and outstanding group of people. Great job, everyone, we did it!! Congrats!
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Guatemala 6-week

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group poems and raps

Gedalia Schorsch,Guatemala 6-week

Description

Yesterday we arrived at Earth Lodge, a wonderfully relaxed space in the mountains for our group to decompress and debrief during the transference phase of our journey. We are all quite pensive as we comprehend that we will all be leaving in less than a week. We have shared so many great moments together, and […]

Posted On

08/5/14

Author

Gedalia Schorsch

Category

Guatemala 6-week

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