New educational service trips a success in Guatemala

New educational service trips a success in Guatemala

ViviendasLeon has welcomed our first groups to the Mayan highlands of Guatemala! We introduce participants to new ways of thinking as they embarked on a service-learning experience that expanded their awareness of local history and culture while participating in our international service program.

The groups arrived at our home base in Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlán and were greeted by their homestay families. Throughout their time in Guatemala, participants dove into themes of global citizenship, cultural immersion, community building, and personal agency while participating in service and exploring the Lake Atitlán region. Below are some highlights:

  • The Project, Santa Lucía Utatlán: Both the San Francisco Friends School and the Family Group supported our partnership with Mil Milagros, an organization dedicated to fighting malnutrition in the Mayan Highlands, to help start the construction of a school kitchen. Trip participants worked tirelessly digging ditches, mixing and pouring cement, moving blocks while also taking a break to play with the youth in the local community.

“We got a chance to enter the rustic kitchen that is currently used to prepare the students' meals at school… the room was filled with thick smoke and one's eyes stung and throat clenched on entering. It was sad to imagine women--often with their babies--spending every day cooking in those conditions, and it gave new purpose to our work building a kitchen that will have better natural ventilation and will improve the respiratory health of the people that use it.” Teacher, San Francisco Friends School (SFFS) “Everywhere you looked, there were happy kids getting piggyback rides, teaching each other hand games, drawing with markers and paper that some of our kids bought for them, and playing ball games together.” Teacher, SFFS

  • San Juan la Laguna: Trip participants traveled across Lake Atitlán to the town of San Juan.

There they learned how to make leather natural followed by a demonstration. Participants saw the famous Mayan Bees (meliponines) while learning about their honey’s medical properties and importance to Mayan culture. After getting serenaded by some Marimba, participants learned about the history of coffee, the role indigenous people play in its cultivation followed by a coffee tasting at the La Voz Coffee Cooperative.

“We were inspired to think about how consumers can affect positive change through raising awareness and pressuring companies to do right by their workers and the environment.” Student, SFFS

  • Homestays: Participants spent some quality time at the end of the day relaxing and connecting with their homestay family playing games, eating dinner while sharing stories about their lives at home.

“We're trying lots of new foods, like chuchitos (salsa-filled tamales), jamaica (hibiscus juice), and a variety of new-to-us fruits such as a very sweet, bright orange avocado.” Student, SFFS

  • Santa Catarina Palopó: In Santa Catarina, participants learned about the colorful town and the Pintando Santa Catarina Project. Participants were guided by Milsa, who highlighted her towns handwoven dress, talked about funeral practices, and walked the groups through the callejones (alleyways) of her city. Participants joined her family for a tortilla-making demonstration, followed by lunch with her family.

  • Antigua: The Family Group got the chance to experience Guatemala during its very colorful and festive Holy Week. Participants traveled to the historic and colonial city of Antigua to witness the religious processions and colorful alfombras (sawdust carpets) lining the central part of the city.

Our Global Education Program prides itself on having participants explore local culture, history, and the language of the Mayan Highlands region while working alongside rural families and children in their indigenous communities, learning from local Guatemalans about their country, and the importance of international understanding.

Program by the numbers:

  • 10 hours of service was completed per person

  • 72 participants

  • Kitchen Project will serve: 150+ students in the Los Manantieles community of Santa Lucía Utatlán

Take a look at the experiences that the San Francisco Friends School and Family group had!

SFFS Photo Album

Family Group Album

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