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Preview: SMU Guatemala Service Learning 2007

SMU Guatemala Service Learning 2007

Updated: 2018-03-07T15:32:40.018-08:00


Cece's Top Ten List for Guatemala



10). the country's water tempatures are "cold," "colder," and "f*ck that!"....
9). cipero has taken on a candy-like quality....
8). your bedmate is a hairy spider or a scorpion....
7). you hear your travelling companions screams cut through the night because of said bedmates...
6). the tempature drops below 60 degrees and you need a blanket to sleep....
5). beans, beans....and more black beans....
4). you begin to think it really is okay to pass on a curve....
3). you keep believing that 20 minutes really means 20 minutes....
2). you own and embrace being called a "punta gringo"....
1). Lynne bunta interpretation dance....

you have been guated!




by Kate




by kate




by kate



by kate

CC's scorpian



Thank You......


Well, we are back in the States and I cannot wait to go back to Guate. Trying to describe the whole experince has been really hard because I do not know how to start explaining how much I've learned and grew in such a short period of time.
Before leaving I though that I had an advantage over others because I had lived in a Latin American country and the culture shock was not going to be a problem; I was wrong. Yes, there are many similarities between Guate and Mexico, but in the long run the differences are greater.
This trip gave me the certainty of what I want to do. For a while I was having doubts, but those quickly faded and a new sense of commitment and purpose are prevalecent.
I am so thankful for everything I have, for all that my family has done for me, for those who were with me on this magnificent trip, and to Lynne and Laura for allowing me being part of their lives for such a short period of time, yet so magnificent and life altering.
I hope that this is only the start of my life as a passionate activist and never ending student of the amazing countries of Latin America.
Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH to those in Guate and here in the States for allowing me to experience such an amazing journey of a lifetime.


reminiscing about the good ole Guate...


So, today, I got up and it hit me. I was back into reality. No longer surrounded by my friends and peers, no longer crammed for hours is small vans, no more cold showers, no more sweat infested odored clothing to wear, no more Guate...I missed waking up to everyone, I missed those eggs and refried bean breakfasts. My stomach is definately not the same. It's wierd to think how fast things can change for a person, or how what may seem as a small excursion can become something so altering and impacting upon one's life. I have found it awkward to use the computer again and even more so my cell phone. The hot shower was wonderful, but the whole time I took it, the whole time I washed my dirty laundry in the WASHING MACHINE, the whole time I drove my truck around doing errands, the whole time I developed my pictures, I found myself speachless to come up with the words to express what I felt. I've always know that my life has been very blessed, and that I get to experience things that not many others get the opportunity to, such as owning my own car, having a day without "work" or hard labor, or even getting that nice warm shower right when I wanted it. I mean, I've had relatives die, but I've never had to be forced out of my home or run off my land, I've never had my entire family exploited because of another country's selfishness. I've never had to face half the things the people we met have had to and are even currently dealing with. Yet, it amazes me how there is still joy in all of it. I mean even the children found some hope, even though they don't have hardly a roof over their head, they are content, and joyful; they smile, they laugh, they joke, they tease, they play....they work hard, their lives are hard, but they still find something to hope for. Just looking in their eyes you see that something in side them that says "see I'm okay, I'm happy, I have what I need, and I'm more than greatful for that!!!" There's something about them that tells me that even though they have little material wealth, they hold the world, they hold something so great and so powerful that anyone who encounters them and interacts with them and hears their story is left nothing short of speechless!! I look forward to brushing up on my spanish (as well as many other languages) and going back to volunteer and stay for a community at a life at a time, one day at time....To give to others is the truest of gifts. It started with them, and now it's my turn...will you follow?

In Guatemala



Women pick fallen petals from the bright sun tiles
of the central plazas in Solola, in Antigua
and Santiago Atitlan. They tuck the washed purple
into plastic bags, packing the perfumed flesh
together, taking the flowers home to the kitchen.

In the cooperative farmacia, I can buy a tiny bottle
of the sour tintura, count 25 drops into a glass
of naranja, 25 drops into bottles of Gatorade, into palms
held out, cupping water. No one wants an upset stomach;
we turn to the Mayan remedies. The trees
spread their evening-cloud light over courtyards,
lakefront parks, over winding unpaved highways.

The bare ground where children squat, playing
with a new litter of puppies, feels the redemption
of jacaranda. Pale and soothing, cooler than the concrete floors
of their huts, mothers weave the lavender blossoms
with the long tail feathers of quetzal birds, with jaguar kings,
and stair-stepped temples of mottled stone to make
tapestries, offering these to visitors passing by.


Back to the life of time and cell phones.....and rules of the road.


Hello family in Sellwood, WASPC, and people in Washington. After all the service learning experience we have had, most of us are ready to continue our lives back in the states. There are a few from the trip who would have stayed behind if they would have had the opportunity. WE HAVE CONQUERED THE GUATE, most of the group needed things translated for the majority of the trip, (thanks to Paulina and Lynne), however we made it.
Words will be hard to explain the things we say and the stories we heard. What we can do now is share our experience with others and influence people to travel and see the world, but most importantly tell them to not take things for granted. People need to hear the stories of communities in Guatemala who have nothing or perhaps things were taken from them. These people still enjoy life and struggle everyday to provide food for their families. We have access to many things in our lives such as food, hot water, a nice bed, and all the freedoms we have for living in America. If you do not have the time to travel, see what you can do in your local community. Or perhaps encourage students to travel by providing donations so they to can make an impact in the world. See the world, but put aside the paradise places, see what hunger looks like and listen to stories that will move you. I had a blast and it will be hard to explain, however i will do my best. Thanks to the instructors who set up this trip. Thanks to Saint Martin's for allowing the opportunity. Thank you, thank you to those who helped me by finding ways to fund my trip. Well, i have to make a Mocha for a customer and prepare for class. Hope to see my family soon and visit with others by sharing my story. Love all of you!

The "N" Word


This trip has been so amazing, I don't know where to start. Being among all the extreme poverty and oppression these people are experiencing really makes you appreciate how privleged we are as US citizens. We have decided that there is a new 'N' word: need. We in the states are given everything we need and so much more, yet we seem to find a million and one things to bitch about on a daily basis. Being in Guatemala has really challenged me to re-evaluate the manner in which I live my life and what I take for granted. Hot water, good food, medical care, shelter, gender equity, a safe place to live; we are not entitled to anything, but we seem to think we are. One of our more recent visits was to a rural Mayan community fighting against the expansion of a nickel mine. The mining company has moved in and claimed the land that these peole have been living on for literally hundreds of years, but because the people have never had land titles or the necessary paper work, they are able to manipulate them and steal there land. This January, an entire community was evicted from their homes when people paid by the nickel mine came and burned down their entire village. They are now coming back and rebuilding, even though the same thing will probably happen again. One of the men we spoke with said, "We are not rich people, we do not live in mansions, yet they feel the need to take everything from us. All we want is our land, nothing more. We even offered to buy it back from them, even though it was never there in the first place, but they refuse." The most messed up part about all of it was that the nickel the company is after is located in the hills, and these people lived in the valley below-- the company doesn't even need the land they are taking, but doing to just to exercise power and exploit the people so they do not seem weak to others. This example is one of hundreds happening right now. It saddens me that there aren't more people taking action; it seems like everyone is waiting for someone else to fix the problem, and we just turn a blind eye and don't hold our companies, investors, or government accountable, because the US has had a huge hand in all of this, read Bitter Fruit. But as far as people actually taking action against these problems, to me, its seems like we should be asking ourselves, "if not me, then who?" - Alicia



So, it seems that the saying you never know what you've got till its gone is most definately true here. We definately had our rough patches on this trip and it feels that it has been until lately that we've fully come to be well adjusted here and now we have to be packed up and ready to leave. I have to be honest and say that I haven't written on here because I was being selfish in wanting to soak up all the beauty that there is to be found here. And although we have spent the better part of our time here being herded like cattle crammed into vans on squished on boats, there was so much to take in that when I had the opportunity to venture out and find the internet or find some local to pretend I could understand, I definately took to the pretending as my spanish isn't quite up to par. Over all this trip has been amazing beyond words and for all the frustrations and fears that may have been had, I wish I could get lost and suck here if only for a short while longer. It's definately a place I feel comfortable in, at least while traveling with others and the scenery, the people, the culture, the life is just so impressionable on such a greater scale than I can begin to put words together for!!


Less than 10 hours


How sad, i can't believe it is almost over. It has been great and i encourge all who view this to take the opportunity to travel. The weather was beautiful and the people are kind. I will miss this place however, i am looking forward to visit my family. My eyes have seen many interesting things and i will not forget them. I have taken a lot of pictures and will be able to borrow others. I am not looking forward to the cold rain, but i like the tan i got from being down here. We will be arriving in seattle wednesday around 7:00 pm, we will travel all morning and all afternoon. Hopefully i can make it to class and work on thursday. Thanks to all who have made this possible! Love all of you, singing off from Guatemala, Frederico Brugato




relaxing after a long days work.



Today is our last day and I am writing my first blog. It has been an amazing 10 days learning about Fair Trade, the history, economics, and lives of the Guatemalans and Mayans. Working with them and seeing how they live their lives daily makes me wonder why we are so selfish and greedy. We have no idea what it truly means to be poor, to lose someone because they stood up for their people, or to lose land because others are selfish. I wish more people could see what I have seen and experience it. There is so much need here and in so many other places in the world. We need more people to step outside their comfort zones and realize that the world is bigger than them.

On a different note, part of this trip has been enjoyable. We have seen things that I would never have dreamed possible. Tikal was my favorite stop, although the volcanos and markets were amazing too. Next country on my list... Honduras perhaps?

~Elizabeth aka Isabel



Nothing is more amazing then standing atop a temple in the Gran Plaza, in the still of the night, staring across to the outline of the Gran Jaguar temple - with a blanket of stars lighting the vast sky above your head.

The only sound that surrounds you is the crickets, frogs and wild birds singing their song in harmony. The only human sounds are the ones made by our feet, walking through the cool ground beneath us.

No, you can't get a guide or even purchase a tour to see this amazing sight. How does one get the luck of this once in a lifetime event? Simply by being in the right place, at the right time.

Wendy, Rosario (our in-country hosts) and I were returning from having a cool drink when Wendy struck up a conversation with one of the park's guards.....after a few minutes, he had found out who we were and why we were there - at which point, he offered to take us up there - completely against the rules - but none of us cared, and we went for it. The four of us hiked to the Gran Plaza in about 35 minutes, and we didn't return back to our rooms until around midnight.

It was so incredible being the only ones there, that late at night....standing on structures that were thousands of years old, and standing in the spot that former Mayan kings had stood. It gave us chills thinking of the history that surrounded us. I know I won't have another experience like this in a very long time, if ever.

C. Oakes

Last day


Hola from Guatemala! Today is our last day and despite being pick pocketted, crammed in vehicles, and called gringo putas I have had a blast. We have listened to inspirational stories, met many different people, and seen beautiful sites. I have a lot of stories to tell when I get back-if I return. It will be very difficult to leave this country. I might have to accidently get lost in the airport and miss my flight...

Love and miss you all!


Last day


Hola from Guatemala! Today is our last day and despite being pick pocketted, crammed in vehicles, and called gringo putas I have had a blast. We have listened to inspirational stories, met many different people, and seen beautiful sites. I have a lot of stories to tell when I get back-if I return. It will be very difficult to leave this country. I might have to accidently get lost in the airport and miss my flight...

Love and miss you all!


final day


March 20th, our final day in Guatemala. We are in Guatemala City, and could hear it around us all night, the non-stop traffic, sirens, hum of background city-noise. We are in a hotel called the San Jose, which is a cozy haven from a rather dangerous town - at least dangerous at night. Several of the students went to a concert last night with one of our guides from Rights Action, and this morning's report was that all enjoyed it.
We have warm showers here!!!!!!! This is something we've not had the whole time we've been here. Today we get to visit a human rights organization to hear about their work on behalf of civil war widows and orphans. We will also spend our afternoon in the central market, spending those last quetzales that we have. We'll be home tomorrow evening - can't wait to see everyone then! Lots of stories to tell and many more pictures to share!



Be sure to click on the "older posts" link at the bottom of the page. We have at least 4 pages of pictures and blog entries - don't miss out.

Lions, and tigers and jaquars - OH MY!


They actually have signs like this posted on the Tikal reserve. Other signs present are snakes, turkeys, coatimundis and deer.

Eeeewwwwww - monkey poo!


Kate had a bit of a run in with the monkey poo in Tikal. She's working hard to get it all out of her shoes.

Temple I - Gran Plaza


This is the temple of Gran Jaguar, the most revered temple of the Mayans.

Sunrise from Temple IV


This is the sun rising at Temple IV in Tikal. We are all sitting atop the tallest temple in the area.

Lynne at dinner


Lynne enjoying her Licuida; a licuida is a guatemalan fruit smoothie.