Guatemala Video!

http://locker.palcs.org/~crodden/Guatemala%20Trip%202011.flv

Pictures!

Guatemala Day 10

This was our official last day. We flew back to America. Our 6 hours of flight time allowed us all to catch-up on some sleep and reflect on our amazing time in Guatemala. It seemed that the leaders of the trip were all thinking the same things.

We are very proud of our students. We are beyond happy with the way they conducted themselves in a foreign country. They were representing Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School and The United States of America. We have heard nothing but good things from our host, William Vasey, regarding our time in Guatemala. Our students made a huge impact on every person they had encountered. Mr. Vasey told us that they had excelled beyond his expectations, and there has been nothing but positive emotions in the school where they had been working. He said that it seems like the entire school has been uplifted, and all the attitudes of the students and the teachers have been enriched. Early in the trip, we had a conversation with the team. We told them that they would be paving the way for all of the future PALCS trips that would take place in Guatemala. It would be an understatement to say that they have set the bar high. Now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the school in Guatemala will be filled with excitement and anticipation when they hear that a group from Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School is planning a trip to Guatemala!

Guatemala Days 8 & 9

After a great week of helping the school in the remote town of Joyabaj, days 8 and 9 were spent in the more touristy towns of Panajachel and Antigua. Both of these towns were stunning. There were many places to buy souvenirs and see some amazing scenery and architecture!  

Panajachel was directly next to the massive Lake Atitlan. From a distance we could see a couple giant volcanoes across the lake. It truly was a beautiful sight. We wandered around the large street market and the students really had a great time bartering prices with the vendors. That was an element of shopping that is rarely experienced in the States! To finish up our time in Panajachel, we ate dinner at this quaint restaurant located right off the street. We enjoyed a great meal while the marimba (Guatemala’s national instrument) was played for us. It was the perfect way to end our time in Panajachel.

Antigua was equally as beautiful as Panajachel! Antigua is visited by many tourists a year because of its cobblestone streets and amazing architecture. We went into a couple beautiful cathedrals and saw buildings that had been around for hundreds of years. We even saw some buildings that were destroyed by earthquakes. As we walked down Antigua’s streets, we felt as though we were in a movie. Many pictures were taken that day!

After we finished exploring Antigua, we went back to Guatemala City to spend the night before we would fly back home the following day. Our days in Panajachel and Antigua were amazing and they were very fun. It was the perfect way to end our time in Guatemala!

Guatemala Day 7

Today was our last day at the school. It was sad, but it was a very special day. It´s amazing how many relationships were formed in just 4 days. Our students have really connected with their Guatemalan friends.

We visited each room and handed out some of the donations we brought. The children were very excited to receive their toys, bracelets, and school supplies! We were just as excited to give them out.

During the chidren´s lunch break, we met with all of the school´s teachers. We expressed how much of an honor it was for us to be able to help in their school. We also brought gifts for all of the teachers. We gave purses to the women and ties to the men. They were so thankful for all of the work we had done this week. They presented a bag (that is exclusively made in Joyabaj) to each of us as a token of their appreciation.

After we met with all of the teachers, one of the older classes prepared lunch for us. This was an extremely special gesture because they paid for all of the ingredients themselves. It was very good!

We said our goodbyes to all of the Guatemalan students when their school day was over. It was sad saying goodbye, but it was great to see all of the relationships that were made between our students and the school´s students.

Once everyone had left, we painted our last mural in the last elementary classroom. We worked really hard, and the room looked great! We only wished we could see the children´s reactions.

Once we cleaned up, we left the school went to our hotel to pack. We then went to Deisy´s for our last meal. We really focused on expressing our sincere appreciation to Deisy and all the hard work she put in for us the entire week. We have been proud of our students for all of the respect and gratitude they showed Deisy this week. They have been great!

Our last day in Joyabaj was a day I´m sure we´ll all remember for years to come. Our students worked hard this week, and they positively influenced that school in a huge way! We´re so proud of them. They completely deserve the two fun days that lie ahead!

Guatemala Day 6

We just love the school in Joyabaj! Today was similar to yesterday. We spent the majority of our day helping in the classroom. It seemed as though the Guatemalan students have completely come out of their shells. They were giving us all hugs, and we each received a bunch of drawings from the younger elementary classes.

Today our students both participated in and helped teach classes. They were having a blast! We helped teach an older class to prepare them when they are in job interview situation. We also taught them proper table etiquette (we all learned something there). Then we helped them with their English again!

After the school went quiet and everyone had left, we started painting another elementary classroom. We couln´t wait to see the children´s faces the next day when they saw the new look of their room! It is so rewarding to see the excitement on those little faces. Our students are truly making an impact on that school!

When we finished painting, we went back to the hotel to relax and to clean-up for dinner. One of the teachers from the school, who we had been working with, came to our hotel to visit with us. She used to dance ballet, so she performed a dance for us! She even taught the team some of her moves. She was very talented.  

We ate at Deisy´s again tonight. She had prepared a very special, very tasty, soup for us. Deisy has worked hard all week preparing our meals. She is truly an amazing person, and she cooks some delicious food!

Tomorrow is going to be a sad day. It will be our last day at the school where we´ve been working. We´ve been so proud of our students this entire trip! They have been growing and growing as young adults each day.

Guatemala Day 5

Just when our time at the school was good, our time at the school got better! Today we spent a lot of time in the classroom.

It was really great to see our students interact with the Guatemalan students. They really dove right in and opened themselves up to those in the school. A lot of Spanish was spoken, and a lot of English was spoken!

The school really wanted us to help sharpen up their students’ English. We were thrilled to help! We spent the majority of our time today teaching a 10th grade class. We helped them with their hearing, writing, and speaking of English. Beyond that, our students performed some songs and conducted some educational games. Not only were the Guatemalan students learning a lot, but they were having fun too!

We were so pleased to see our students teach in the humble manner in which they did. They taught as if they were friends who were helping friends. At the end of the day, that’s exactly what they did. They helped their friends.

Beyond teaching and participating in the regular scheduled classes, our students worked hard once again when the school day was over. We painted two more rooms and another mural was painted in another elementary classroom. It was a lot of hard work that was well worth it!

After we finished at the school, we went back to the hotel, cleaned up, and went to William Vasey’s for dinner. Mr. Vasey has been our main host this entire trip. He has orchestrated our whole itinerary. The hotel where we’ve been staying was named after him. He helped build the school where we’ve been working, and he is one of the most respected men in all of Joyabaj. He has been a fantastic host, and we have all learned a thing or two about the value of the human life by just spending time with him. We really enjoyed going to his house too!

Upon entering Mr. Vasey’s house, we were all greeted by two friendly German Shepherds and a room full of great people. Mr. Vasey was teaching some locals how to speak English, and he thought it would be a great idea to have our students help them learn! Our students were asking the locals questions in English, and they were helping them with their pronunciation and vocabulary. Once the lesson was finished, we all enjoyed a great Guatemalan meal. It was very good!

We’ve reached the halfway point of our trip and our students have had nothing but great experiences thus far. Some of them don’t even want to leave (they’ll all be getting on the plane…don’t worry). There are still many great things for us to do and see!

Children from Joyabaj

Children from Joyabaj, Guatemala

Guatemala Day 4

Today was a special day! Today we went to the school where we would be spending the most of our time in Joyabaj. After today, we’re all glad we’re going to be spending a lot of time in that school!

The first thing we did, when we arrived at the school, was give all of the donations we had collected to the school’s principal and staff. They were all so thankful to receive the school supplies, the clothes, the bags, and the laptops we had brought. Thank you so much to all of you who had donated!

After we unloaded all that we brought, a very special ceremony took place to welcome us to the school. One of our students had the honor of marching the American flag into a courtyard where the whole student body had assembled. When both the Guatemalan and American flags were presented, a traditional Guatemalan dance was performed for us by some of the school’s students. Not only did they dance for us, but we were all given some traditional Guatemalan food!

After we saw their tremendous presentation, our students were able to return the favor by performing an authentic American dance in front of the school’s entire student body. The “Cotton eye Joe” was performed! Luckily, we all had practiced in our hotel hallway (the cleaning ladies joined us) the day day before. The Guatemalan students loved the dance! They even joined in and tried to learn. I’m sure our students will never forget that experience.

When the ceremony had ended, we all interacted with the children until their school day was over. After everyone had left, and we ate some lunch, we went straight to work!

The school was in desperate need of some paint. Our students worked hard today as the entrance to the school was repainted and as murals were painted in one of the elementary classrooms. Words cannot begin to capture the selfless hard work our students put forth today!

After we finished working at the school for the day, we all went to Deisy’s to eat an amazing dinner. What an amazing dinner it was!

It was a great day, and our students had really worked hard to help children they didn’t even know.

Guatemala Day 3

These students may be professional world travelers. After we woke-up and ate an amazing breakfast, we all went to the market!

The market had, what seemed to be, thousands of vendors and millions of people. It was very fast-paced, and it was extremely crowded. The students had a blast, and everyone left with something!

After our market experience, we all went to a local’s house to eat lunch. Deisy would be our cook for our time in Joyabaj. She was a fantastic cook who prepared some authentic Guatemalan food for us. We were very proud of the students as they expressed great gratitude towards our host, and they really stepped out of their comfort zones to try some unfamiliar foods.

Once we finished our amazing lunch, the students were given the choice to either attend a religious ceremony in Joyabaj or take an afternoon siesta! Those who chose the siesta enjoyed a nice afternoon swim and nap while the others witnessed first-hand how religion plays a prominent role in Guatemalan culture.

After the siesta and the ceremony ended, we all sat around and chatted for a while until it was time to eat dinner! Once it was time for dinner, we went back to Deisy’s and ate until we could eat no more. We all loved going to Deisy’s.

The students are really enjoying Guatemalan culture. A bunch of the students have said that they love talking to the locals (they only speak Spanish)! Everyone is so kind, and it seems that each student is learning more and more each day!