Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Oh Guatemala- January 4,2014

A quick reflection from Nicole Johnson:
Today was our last day of the Guatemala trip. We left Antigua early this morning to depart from Guatemala City airport. We had several delays in Atlanta airport, but happy to be back in the USA! We finally arrived home in Syracuse around seven at night. I’m feeling bittersweet about our trip ending; it was such an amazing experience words truly can’t describe. I’m so happy to have had this opportunity and learning experience, I will take it with me forever.
Another trip reflection, from Diana Froats of Onondage Community College!

This trip has been emotional to say the least. I can’t imagine a person going to San Lucas with TJ and not  being moved to tears, laughter, and concern for the local people.  

We started our day with the wonderful food made by the best host and hostess one could want. Of all   the things I will miss in Guatemala Felipe and Marbila will top the list.   

Next it was off to the Village of Pampojila to teach about Malnutrition in the morning and Reproductive  Health in the afternoon. We were greeted at our host location by children eagerly awaiting someone to play with them. First with a hearty round of Soccer that I am not sure who won, since us American students get more easily excitable, and the ball ended up on a roof to be recovered a little later. Then with our own student Erica giving “Plane rides” to each child that wanted one. The simplest things make them smile so much. I am pretty sure with all the rides given that my legs would have been burning but she just lifted them over and over again to fly in the air. Then we found it was down to business and the women included us in the activity of shelling the soybeans. This is a long process when done by hand. We carefully skinned enough soybeans for the ladies to make soy milk and soy burgers as well to go with   the malnutrition teaching. (None for us since we have sensitive American bellies though.) Still it was really cool to participate in the activity. We gave out paper plates at the end of the teaching and had the moms and children draw the equivalent of a my-plate outline. How wonderful to see that in spite of our differences in language and culture we were effectively communicating.
Off to lunch up the hill; and once again our amazing host family brought the food to us. I have never felt   so grateful for a meal as then. They never complained about having to prepare the meal and transport   it to us wherever we may have been. Sometimes that meant up a steep hill but the food always arrived for lunch and also always arrived at the appropriate temperature. Fried chicken, potato salad and watermelon. It is like heaven on a plate. God Bless Marbila and Felipe. 

While my classmates taught the sensitive topic of reproductive health me and a couple of other students sat in the shade and visited with the local children. We made rubber-band bracelets for two little girls that stayed right close to us and paper airplanes for the little boys. To be in a culture were such simple things brings such great joy is incredible.   

We headed back to San Lucas and finished out our day with a teaching on how to make the tortillas that we have been blessed with at every meal. Little did I know how hard it is to make those tasty treats till I tried to make them myself. Luckily my mason’s wife Latisia is just as patient as her husband was in teaching. The first three I made each ended up getting dropped at some point. Finally the fourth tortilla came out perfectly and stayed on my hands until I cooked it on her stovetop much like the ones we had built earlier in the week. She explained the whole process of cooking the corn the night before to make tortillas the next day and then needing to take it elsewhere to have the Nixtamal or cooked corn refined in order to make the Masa or dough. It is a good thing I am not required to make tortillas in the states to eat at each meal or I fear my children would be very hungry. I guess some people are naturals at it  though.   

So I finish off my blog with many thanks to Felipe, Marbila, Gloria, Latisia and Santiago who have all   been the best examples of what mankind can be. They truly showed me peace in the mist of turmoil   patience with my slowness to learn and kindness with a smile or laughter or as others have said “Esta Bien”. 

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