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Team Guatemala learns as much as they teach! Report on Day 1-3 In-country
A message from Team Guatemala:
We are having so much fun exploring this stunning country. Our very long journey was worth every second. We finally reached Ak’tenamit after our six hours of flight, hours of layovers, a bus and a wet boat ride. We were welcomed with the country’s songs, dance, and music. The Guatemalan people are musically gifted; especially with the marimba (a Guatemalan xylophone).
Since our welcome, we have been going back and forth from our hotel, Finca Tatin to the Ak’tenamit school. We have been gardening, building shelves, eco-benches and teaching. We will be starting the bunk bed project soon. Our classes are going exceptionally well; the kids absorb everything we show them and say. They are enthusiastic and excited for us to be here.
Although we’ve only been here a few days, we’ve already learned some valuable lessons. We came here with the idea of serving the people because we know of their struggle; but they’ve taught us more than anticipated. While we speak our broken Spanish, they have been unendingly patient and helpful with our communication. When we made tortillas with the girls and did it completely wrong, they guided us with their expertise and improved our skills. All in all, we’ve learned more from them than they have of us.
We’ve learned how kindness and patience are a form of communication; but most importantly, we have learned how a simple life can be lived happily.
We hope that we can inspire the Ak’tenamit youth – through our planned activities and interaction – to look also for opportunities greater than what they might expect.
Projects on Days 1-3:
Some of our students were worried or embarrassed about performing, rather than seeing it simply as a way to connect with the people and express love (rather than a performance). We sang our national anthem and had 2 musical numbers by 4 students. Addie and Brittany sang a popular current song, with guitar. Kristen played the guitar and Amber sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. All the performances were well received, and the students at Aktenamit would call out “otra, otra, otra!” after the performance, which means Anothersong, Another song, Another song!
The existing library shelves made of wood had been eaten by termites and they only had 10 feet of shelves. They were so bad, they were about to fall over. Books and magazines were stacked on tables and the floors. We built 40 feet of 7 foothight shelves made of wood that termites do not eat and anchored them to the walls. In the beginning, we bent more nails than we drove into the wood, but by the end Youthlinc and the students teamed up to be a construction machine. (We did have to send some Ak’Tenamit students away, since there wasn’t enough to do. This seems to be a problem with some projects that the school students stand around and are uncertain of what to do, or aren’t utilized.
We have poured the foundation for 6 eco-benches around the soccer field. Hopefully this will allow the school to interact more during soccer games and allow the girls of the school to have a nice place to sit, all while removing non-biodegradable garbage.
We have started on the garden.
What are our goals?
Break language barriers.
Learn and understand one another’s culture
Connect with the kids and make sure they have a good time
To provide education to the people of the village
To have effective communication so that they can take information into their lives
Bond with the people and learn about the culture
Give them tools to pass the info down to generations after them
Teach in a respectable way, not condescending
Give them a larger understanding of things about our culture
Set a good example for them by showing them girls can be teachers too.
Learn the students’ names
Teach and help them understand the 4Ps
Become friends and introduce ourselves as Americans
Build personal connections
Remember this experience later in lives
Personal and educational development
Connection with trust
What differences do we want to make?
Improve their living conditions
Help them be self-sufficient
Inspiration to learn more
Improve the quality of life and provide them with a sustainable income
Show the value and impact that learning has
Give them a broader perspective of the world
Give a diverse experience
Raise expectations for the future
How do we want to be remembered?
We want to be seen as their friends and equals
We want them to feel and know that we care and we are eager to learn about where they come from and who they are.
We want them to know that they taught us and changed our lives
We want to be remembered as excited, not boring
We want to be remembered as hard workers
Caring, respectful, helpful people
Remember us for our enthusiasm for learning and serving
We want to be remembered for reaching out to them and improving their lives
We want to be remembered as friends.
People willing to help
We’re not afraid to work and get our hands dirty
Our women can also lead and gain education
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