We left Guatemala, but here it is a reflection from one of our students.
Now we have moved on from Guatemala, but in no way does that mean that its impact has not left our minds. I hope that I accurately speak on behalf of everyone in the group by saying that our eyes were opened and awareness increased and knowledge enhanced. After reflecting on my time in Guatemala, there are three things that I personally learned; things I was looking forward to learning and others that were unexpected.
First, I learned, or rather, unlearned all of the false stereotypes associated with Guatemala. In our small group discussions, it became apparent that everyone had experienced a situation with friends or family that warned of all of the many perils of traveling to “such an undeveloped and dangerous country’, which were entirely untrue. The people of the country are brilliant: botanists, astronomers, philosophers, teachers, doctors, and doers. Everyone that we spoke with played a vital role in our growth, and everyone left their print in our hearts.
Second, I learned about the perception of the rest of Central America, the neighboring countries, and the United States. I understand this is a broad and rather intensive topic, so I am not going to elaborate, but what I learned, and what heard both shocked and surprised me, as well as intrigued me. There is an authenticity to hearing how someone feels they are being treated by their government that you cannot get from a textbook or a professor.
Last, I learned about the Mayan culture; a culture that is vastly overlooked for their contributions to society, science, and the identity of Guatemalans. The language, the music, the ceremonies, the food (oh yes!) and the stories are captivating. The Mayan people have been through so much in history; from the last thirty years and dating back to the conquistadors. Their resilience and compassion is incredible.
As one adventure wraps up another is about to unfold in Costa Rica. An entirely new culture, history, and people have the chance to teach us anymore, and we are all excited for that. However, it is impossible to forget and overlook all of the amazing and monumental lessons learned from Guatemala.
by Aaron Smith