Finally! After months of preparation and anticipation we have arrived in Guatemala. The beauty of the country and the people left me speechless when we first arrived two days ago, so I am only getting to my first entry now. Now that I sit down and try to find the right words, I realize that it is much more difficult than I had anticipated to blog. How do I put into words what I feel, what I see and speak of my team so that you, wherever you are, can get a true taste of Guatemala? I hope that the pictures speak for themselves in many cases and that I can bring Guatemala alive in your imagination.
I suppose the best way to explain the past 48 hours is to say that I can’t close my eyes. I’m on sensory overload. I am constantly watching, listening, feeling, smelling and tasting new things. I love it. There is nothing that I would rather be doing right now. There is nothing like the feelings you experience when you are travelling. I’m especially thrilled to be here as I just graduated from Ryerson University and to be having a “grad trip” like this. In fact, I can’t imagine being in Toronto right now and working a “regular” job. I feel like this trip found me at the perfect time, that I found the best team, an amazing host (Open Windows Foundation) and the most gorgeous country.
First of all, I should tell you why we are here. My team is here to work with Open Windows Foundation, to experience and live life in a different culture, and begin to learn Spanish. Open Windows Foundation started out as the only library in San Miguel Duenas and has now grown to be a library, school, computer lab and community centre all in one. As illiteracy is such a large problem in Guatemala, it is clear that OW is absolutely essential to improving the well being of the children and families in the community. The opportunities that OW offers are priceless.
We have been so excited and inspired by the work that OW does, that we also haven’t wasted any time in getting to work. As you can see in the pictures, we’ve started painting the second floor of OW, which is the new edition that the previous Developing World Connections team built in November. Already we can see the difference that a bright yellow can of paint can do for the atmosphere and how excited the kids get when they see that their “biblioteca” is improving. We’ve also helped to plan and prepare for the Mother’s Day celebration that OW is hosting this week for all of the local mothers. In addition to improving OW physically, it has been amazing to be connected to and welcomed by the community already. We have a busy schedule lined up that includes playing soccer with the local kids, taking Spanish lessons, plastering and repairing the walls at OW, painting and teaching English. In addition to our “team” activities, members of my group have also decided to take on individual projects and initiatives. For example, two of my team members who are studying Journalism and Radio and Television Arts are making a documentary and a team member who studies nursing has been presented with the opportunity to shadow a local nurse. I’m sure that they will give me tons of exciting and interesting things to write about next time and maybe even post some entries themselves.