Sunday, June 5, 2016

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Today was our last day in Guatemala. We started the day off early by climbing a volcano. As the rain cleared, we were able to see the top of the volcano and the steam off the lava rocks. Since the trip up the volcano was exhausting, we got the chance to roast some marshmallows on lava rocks. There was even a nice little shop set up on the top of the volcano with lava jewelry! After "lava surfering" all the way down the volcano, we loaded the bus and headed to Villa Nueva to hear about the ministry and services the Cerrito family provide. We, then, headed to a cemetery that overlooked the dump in Guatemala City. This landfill is the largest in all of Central American and provides a way of living for an estimated 11,000 people. It was an extremely impactful site to see and many of the students were moved by the experience as we watched the people working in the landfill. After a fully packed day, we sat down to our last group dinner as a group at a restaurant called Adobe. We ate a lot of guacamole and chips there!      

Olivia (student)

 Picture of group inside lava cave as we hiked up the volcano. 

As our last day of the service learning week comes to an end, as trip leader I want to thank you, our families and our friends, for reading our blog and for all your support in helping making this experience happen. Tonight, as we met together as a large group for the last time, one of the students observed that we have been challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally, yet, just as equally rewarded. Our world has broadened, we've made new friends, we've reached out and walked with the children of Guatemala, their parents, caregivers, professional staff, and paraprofessionals. For sure, our lives have been enriched. In turn, we are confident we are more prepared to enrich the lives of others. What a privilege and what an awesome week!

Carol (occupational therapist and trip leader)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Hi everyone! Kate and Jean here. Friday was an awesome day of service learning! We had the opportunity to meet individuals in residential programs, in their homes, and at an outpost clinic. I (Kate) went to ABI on Friday. We did lots of consultant work with the other professionals at the facility, which was a really different way to practice occupational therapy! At the end of the day, the residents put on a show for us. There was singing, dancing, and we were all given a certificate and a goody bag. Although we were sad to leave the residents, it was an awesome end to the week!

Jean here! Our group travelled 5 ½ hours to an outpost clinic, Canilla, seeing gorgeous countryside on the way.  We had the opportunity to meet the PT who works at the clinic, hear her stories and work with 20 of her patients and families. We learned about interprofessionalism as we collaborated with nursing, PT, OT, and wheelchair experts to provide care for the patients. We met the cutest kids, beautiful adults, and sweetest families. At times we needed two interpreters to translate from K’iche to Spanish then from Spanish to English. Our hosts were incredibly generous providing us with scrumptious Guatemalan meals and showing us nearby Mayan ruins; all within 24 hours!

The third group ecstatically reported their fantastic experiences working with individuals and family members in their homes. What a great opportunity to be truly immersed in the culture here!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Last Day of Service

Today was our last day of service for all three of our groups! Everyone had an amazing week working beside Guatemalan therapists and working with the children here. We all have fallen in love with the beautiful smiles and laughs of the kids and we hope to remember these moments forever. Daryl's group arrived back in Antigua safely this evening after their rural trip 5 hours away. Everyone is safe and sound here at the hotel. We are ready for a fun last day tomorrow to enjoy the beautiful sites in the country of Guatemala.

Allison (student) & Kathleen (student)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

We are on a Mission!

June 2, 2016
         Coming to you from Nora (practitioner) and Leeah (student)!  Daryl’s group began their day early this morning as they traveled 5 hours away to provide services at an outpatient clinic in Canila. The group has been in contact and said they arrived safely and had a wonderful day as they got the opportunity to visit Mayan ruins. Back in Antigua, Missionaries of Highway and ABI’s group also had an eventful day! The Missionaries group split up as half of the group went on home visits and the other half worked at the clinic. Stacia (practitioner) Leeah, Sarah, and Rolando (translator) traveled throughout the community to check in on the homes of three children from the clinic. At each home, the group evaluated the environment and helped implement programs to make each home more accessible for their child. The group was able to provide the homes with play mats and a care plan that included exercises the children can work on at their home. In one of the home visits, the group worked on adapting and modifying a child’s wheelchair for three hours! It was very rewarding to see the final product and the smile on the sweet child. The group learned a lot today and is planning on visiting six more homes tomorrow!

      While half of the group attended home visits, Nora (practitioner), Valarie (practitioner), Lauren, Kylie, Allison, Ashley, and Giovanni (translator) remained at the outpatient clinic. We had the opportunity to integrate speech & language-based services (Nora, SLP) with the OT services for the kids, moms & clinical staff.  We were able to provide training and support for the families and clinical staff.  These included tooth brushes, coloring books, sensory tools to calm the children and ideas for school and home use. In addition, Valarie was able to reunite was a previous child that she worked with last year! We are very excited to follow up with the kids tomorrow to check on these skills being used in the classroom. 

      In the evening, the ABI group was able to get a tour of a chocolate factory in Antigua and even nibbled on some free samples! After dinner, the whole group celebrated a very special 21st birthday with a delicious, local Oreo cake for our translator and partner Brittany! Overall, we all had a good day and are very sad that tomorrow is our last day of service. Nevertheless, we are very grateful for this opportunity to work with and learn from the children of Guatemala. Check in on us tomorrow for another fabulous blog report! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Cultural Day

Blog: June 1, 2016
Hi all! This is Sean (a student) with today’s update of our Guatemalan adventure! Today, we took a break from our service sites to engage in some cultural experiences. First, we visited a Guatemalan junior high school (grades 7, 8, and 9) called Amigos Por Siempre (Friends Forever). Xavier groups had visited the school in the past, and it was great to see their enthusiasm to see us again. They welcomed us with some traditional songs and dances performed by their students, and we then split off into three groups to tour the campus. The students and faculty graciously showed us numerous aspects of their Mayan culture; such as Mayan math, tortilla making, weaving, and traditional alfombras used to celebrate the holiday of Corpus Christi. In all of their demonstrations, everyone at the school was incredibly courteous and enthusiastic, and we thoroughly enjoyed learning from and sharing with the students and faculty. After completing our tour, the school concluded their program by performing a traditional Mayan ceremony to honor our visit (but they trimmed it down a bit by skipping the chicken slaughter from a couple years ago). We were all very honored that they shared all of this with us, and as a thank you, we presented Amigos Por Siempre with several donated materials, most importantly a projector from Xavier’s IT department. The faculty was incredibly thankful for these gifts, and it was a great way to close our visit to the school!

Hola mis amigos!  This is Valerie (Occupational Therapy Practitioner).  In addition to our visit to La Vega, we got to visit some Mayan ruins and visit downtown Antigua.  At Iximche (the Myan Ruins) we learned more about the history of the Mayan Civilizations here in Guatemala.  We walked through 5 different plaza’s (as they were called) over 2,000 square kilometers which housed 200 royal family members.  Towards the back plaza, we were able to actually see a Mayan ritual in progress by a local Mayan priest.  We were unable to take pictures of this sacred practice but it was very cool to be able to observe from a distance as they prayed and offered various items (candles, food, alcohol) to the Mayan Gods.  After the ruins, we were able to shop at the local artisan market and spend some quetzales (their local currency) to buy some handcrafted items.  After the market we ate at a local restaurant called Epicure which is a farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Antigua.  This restaurant is owned by an American couple who uses the restaurant to train and provide meaningful jobs for the locals.  In addition, they have opened and currently run 4 different schools for local children which is so needed in this community.  We were happy to meet this couple and hear their story and support their mission.  Now, after a long day, we will say Buenos Noches as we are all VERY tired!  We are off to our services sites again tomorrow.     
Signing off,
Sean (Student) and Valerie (Occupational Therapist)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Extra Extra: Second Day of Service Report!

Hola, parents and friends!

This is Rakhi (Occupational Therapy Practitioner) and Allie H. (Occupational Therapy Student). Today was another great day of service at all of our sites!

Reporting from Daryl's house:
Today we worked with numerous kids with disabilities from the community. It was great to interact with the kids and to help them improve their daily occupations. We had a successful system working which included teams of six. We had two therapists (occupational therapy and speech therapy) along with a translator and three students. While this group of six was hard at work, the other three students played with the children who were waited to be seen. We read books to the children, talked with them, and more!
The therapy sessions went very well. The clients were able to learn a lot along with the students. The therapists were in charge, but the students were able to provide their feedback and step in a lot during the sessions. We also made sure to make the care plans simple and understandable for the clients and their parents/caretakers. We made sure to demonstrate and teach the parents/caregivers about the treatments so that they could be continued at home. Our goal was to help these individuals, while also providing sustainability in the care plan so that the children can continue to improve. It was a great opportunity as a students to be able to learn numerous new techniques and ideas for our future careers.
There were a variety of different clients today! We saw many children who were experiencing extreme spasticity. We worked on various techniques with these children such as using a warm wash cloth to help the children open their hands. We also helped another child with mobility by using a therapy ball on which to roll back and forth. This can help with feeling and awareness in the feet. Next, we helped a child with feeding techniques.
It was really amazing to engage with all of these different children! It was a long day of hard work, but well worth it. Helping these children was beneficial for them and to our education. We were able to evaluate, problem solve, make a plan, and provide the families with instructions to continue the therapy practices.
-Allie H.

Reporting from ABI:
This is my second year as a practitioner at ABI, where we have now served for three years. The residential facility has surely made remarkable improvements each year, and the love for the residents is obvious with a core group of staff and caregivers dedicated to giving each resident a fulfilling and meaningful life. This year, the facility has entrusted our group with attempting to problem solve some very sensitive subjects, and we are honored to have gained the respect and confidence of the staff at ABI in order to gain this trust. In addition to the facility being more candid regarding pre-existing issues, the expansion of the facility has presented new and different challenges. I have been impressed by the students' maturity and insight while helping to address our difficult issues. Some of my proudest moments from today were watching the students interact whole-heartedly with the residents and being at-the-ready with songs in Spanish, choosing appropriate interventions and grading interventions to resident abilities, and working through difficult challenges with grace in the company of older and more seasoned professionals. I look forward to working with all the students in class next year as they continue to develop their therapeutic skills and techniques.

Monday, May 30, 2016

First Day of Service

Yo te cuido (I got your back), the highs, the lows, and everything in between for our first day of service.
The morning started off with students being shipped out to three different sites. Bright and early at 6:45 am, the students and therapists for Missionaries of the Highway loaded their van with wheelchairs and supplies.  After them, the other 2 groups headed their separate ways, one to Daryl's Home and one to Abrigo Y Bienestar Integral (ABI) which was an hour and a half drive to Guatemala City.

Each site had its unique opportunities and challenges. The day was filled with emotional highs and lows as well as moments of concrete solutions and ambiguity. Those at Missionaries of the Highway pieced together wheelchairs to fit children's specific needs. They also collaborated with on-site therapists, teachers, and/or caregivers to problem solve and create strategies for improved participation and performance in daily living at home and school. There was one particular high moment for all the therapists and students at Missionaries of the Highway. It came about at the end of the day when a little boy had already received occupational therapy for fine motor skills and then needed his wheelchair adjusted. It was going on 4+ hours and he patiently endured the entire team of 9 working away on finishing final adjustments. Even though he was becoming tearful, sweaty, and tired at the end of the session, he drove away in his parent's pickup truck with windows rolled down and biggest smile on his face.

At ABI students were integrated into the site by observing staff conduct therapy, walk through the residents' daily routines, and develop an understanding of the needs of the facility, staff, and residents.    Since Xavier's last experience at ABI, the facility has expanded and refined its services to its residents.  They have done this through diversifying service into 3 separate sites including the ABI residential facility, the Annex (which is dedicated to sensory and educational needs), and the Independent Living Program. Learning the background of some of the residents was difficult to take in, but important to put everything in perspective. Students look forward to helping the site further develop their programming.

Through it all, it has been an adventurous first day! And through it all, yo te cuido ("I got your back"- our favorite saying). We are in this together and are excited for the next days of service.

Signing off:
Kathleen (Student)
Sara-Ruth (Occupational Therapist)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

To Antigua We Go

The students began the morning going to a Catholic Mass. The music was most of our favorite part of the entire service as they were upbeat and more modernized than regular church hymns. It was an amazing cultural experience as today was the last big celebration for Corpus Christi here in Guatemala. The streets were covered in beautifully designed alfombras which are made of colored saw dust, parts of plants, and many flowers. After church the students had a nice breakfast at the hotel, thanked Fidel and Gloria from the Center of Global Education, and had a little celebration for Megan's 21st birthday! With cake at 10:00 am in Guatemala, she couldn't have had a bad day :)

The therapists then met the students at the hotel to do a quick transition into our second week here in Guatemala. The entire group then took three boats over to the other side of the lake. We were able to take a quick look at some of the shops right off the lake. We then took pick up trucks to an area outside of Santiago Atitlan. There was a mudslide here as a result of a hurricane about 10 years ago.  It is still considered to be a sad area because so many people were displaced or killed by this major disaster. We then headed over to see the Peace Park. This was the site of the civil war massacre of 13 innocent people. There are memorials and many crosses found within here to remember these individuals. We then went to see a church where a Corpus Christi mass was finishing up. The central square was beautiful and we then went to see the decorations inside. Many local flowers and plants are used for decorations all around the church as well as statues dressed in traditional clothing.

We all then headed to Antigua on a three hour bus ride. The groups for the week split up into different cars or vans to be able to discuss an overview of the new week before beginning our service tomorrow. After an orientation, we made final preparations for our first day of service tomorrow at our three sites.

Allison (student)

First Week Mission Accomplished!

We experienced a great week of cultural and language learning. The Xavier student group is enthusiastic, creative, flexible and incredible supportive of one another. They have grown in their development of cultural competence through the many and varied experiences this week, from family life to Spanish conversations and cultural engagement. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with each student. Thank you for entrusting them with me for this incredibly enriching learning opportunity!
Associate Professor, Spanish

Goodbye Xela, Hello Panajachel, See you tomorrow Antigua

It's Allison and Sarah here! We began Saturday morning with our last breakfast at our host families. Also the last time we would hear 'buen provecho' from them when getting up from a meal. The families then walked us to the school where we said our goodbyes. It was a little emotional saying goodbye to the families as they allowed us to live with them for an entire week and did so much for us. We then got on our bus for a two hour bus ride to Lake Atitlan and the Panajachel area. We then went on two boats to cross the lake over into a village on the other side.

Immediately after getting off the boats, we hopped into the beds of pick up trucks. That was quite the local experience with bruises for all. We traveled into the highlands to learn about the solar filtration water systems at a local clinic. We then went to the homes of three families to see how the filtration system worked in their home. It was eye opening to see how the water filtration was helping each person in these families and to hear the families' personal stories.

We then traveled back to Panajachel by boat to explore the area's shops. The locals definitely got a lot of our money yesterday :) We finished the day with a relaxing dinner and reflection. We were all so excited for dinner because it was maybe the first time the entire week that they knew what they were eating (spaghetti!). Everyone ate an entire mountain sized portion and loved every bite! We reflected upon the first week of our trip with topics such as, what first comes to your head when thinking about the week and what advice could you give to future students going on the Guatemala trip. It was sad to say goodbye to our first week, but we are all excited about the week to come. Today was a big transition day for all.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hola from Allie L. and Allie D.!!!! Friday: Yesterday we began the day at the school. We had the opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers. The first speaker was a woman from The Office of Women of the Municipial of Quetzaltenango, an organization which empowers women who have been affected by violence and oppression. It was really awesome to hear about the opportunities they offer the women to participate in society such as workshops to help them learn skills and give them support. The second speaker was a man who works with the organization Innerchange, an organization which can be found around the world. They accompany individuals and communities in their journey through life. Our speaker helps many orphaned children who live on the street by listening to their stories and helping them turn towards education or a craft. The third speaker was a man who lost both hands in a work related accident. He gave his testimony and shared how having prosthetics has helped him continue providing for his family. After the speakers, our professora Diane had a surprise for us! We walked to a dance studio and learned how to salsa! We all let Leeah, Lauren, and Gloria  take the lead and Sean had to juggle a lot of women! After, we all headed home to our home stays for lunch. The group then split up again and half went to learn to weave and the other half went to the Mayan sauna. We switched activities from what we did on Tuesday and you can look back to Katie and Sean's blog for a refresher! The group that went to the sauna had a unique experience because they got to meet Vanessa's (the woman's  house where the sauna is) sister and nephew. The little boy has a developmental disability and has utilized FUNDABIEN which we had visited earlier. We were touched by her kind words and gratitude towards our profession. At the weaving co-op Megan and Sean decided that they were so talented that they were going to start their own shop. Look out for them on etsy ;) Afterwards both groups headed back to their home stays for the last night with their families! We think they were starting to feel bad for us because about half the group had Pizza Hut :) Sarah and Leeah tried on the Traje (traditional outfit of Mayan women) and went to a family party! It was a bittersweet night as we thanked and said goodbye to the families who took us in as their own.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Welcome to the Jungle

Blog Post for Thursday, May 26, 2016  
     Hola! Greetings from yours truly, Leeah and Lauren! We apologize for the delayed post as we were having technical difficulties with the internet connection! After eating another delicious breakfast made by our host families, we started the day heading to a special education school called Xelaju. The school offers education to several children with various disabilities from the area for individuals of all ages. The group brought along our singing skills and Spanish books and paired up into groups of 3 to assist the classrooms. The groups had a great time playing with the children in the classroom and out on the playgroud. We felt much more confident in our Spanish songs and books as the children loved hearing them and insisted on us repeating them over and over again. It is safe to say that we will probably be singing Pulgarcito in our sleep for the rest of the trip! In addition, our group was fortunate enough to bring along and donate various supplies to the school. Special thanks to Allison and Sarah for gathering and coordinating the supplies! With their help, we were able to donate coloring books for each student, crayons, pencils, pens, notebooks, and much more to the school!

     After saying goodbye and giving our thanks to Xelaju, the group began their two hour journey to the coffee farm located in Santa Anita. When we arrived, we were welcomed by the director of the farm, Gloria, and served an authentic meal of chicken, vegetables, noodles, and of course, tortillas at the hotel on the farm.

      After our stomachs were satisfied, we were led by a former guerrilla fighter, Julio, through the coffee farm learning about the logistics of planting, growing, cleaning, roasting, and grounding coffee. We braved through the battle with the mosquitos as we drenched ourselves with bug spray and got in touch with mother nature. Overall, our experience at the farm was definitely one for the books. The farm did not represent what one would think an average farm would look like. Walking for two hours, we trailed behind Julio as he took us up, down, and around what could be comparable to a jungle. The view was unexplainable and no picture could do its justice for how beautiful the scenery was... we may or may not be featured in the next Jurassic Park.

    In addition, we were also able to take a brief tour of the village and a museum of the guerrilla fighters. During this time, Gloria humbly shared her story of being a guerrilla during the civil war. It was very moving to hear her experience of fighting for justice in Guatemala. To end our day at the farm, we were able to buy some of the local coffee. You could tell how excited we were as we cleaned out all the coffee off the shelves!

     We are sad that today is our last day in Xela and with our host families, but are very blessed for the experiences and the people we have met! We are off to Panajachel tomorrow to explore Lake Atitlan. Check in on us tomorrow! Adios!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Blog Post #2 (May 25)

Hola! Blog number two of the day coming to you from Ashley and Kylie! After lunch at our homes, we traveled by bus to La Democracia, a private hospital in Xela. Throughout the week we have learned that while treatment at private hospitals is  superior to what one would receive at a public hospital here in Guatemala, it is also very expensive, limiting the number of people who can access this type of care. La Democracia was small with only 25 beds, but very pretty and well-kept. The hospital also has 21 different outpatient specialty offices, three operating rooms, and six private rooms in the emergency room. This year, La Domacracia is celebrating their 25th anniversary (just like Ashley's parents--"Happy Anniversary mom and dad! ❤️ Ashley"). Seeing only two people occupying rooms during our visit, it represented just how difficult it is to access affordable and sufficient healthcare in Guatemala.
After the tour of the hospital, we returned to the language school before going to explore Central Park. On our way, we happened to run into a precession for the celebration of Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi is tomorrow (May 26), however Guatemalans have been celebrating all week with firecrackers! The women seen in the pictures below are wearing traditional dress called a traje. Upon watching the procession arrive at the only Catholic church in Xela, we ventured to La Luna café for some delectable hot chocolate. Along the way, we saw Giovanni (a gentleman who shared his story with us during the migration presentation yesterday) and invited him to come along! While we drank our hot chocolate, Giovanni (also a musician) rapped for us in Spanish. Most of us had no idea what he was saying, but we were all pretty impressed! The evening was filled with a lot of laughs and great company. 


Be sure to check back tomorrow for more! Adios! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hola! Mary and Madison checking in after lunch. We had a wonderful morning and met awesome people. First we visited Fundabien, an NGO that provides services for children with disabilities as well as a few adults. Upon arrival, Megan befriended a young boy who was there waiting to see the doctor with his parents. Sean happened to have a beanie baby bear that Megan used to entertain the little boy! Soon everyone gathered around to play with the boy and he loved the attention! Soon after, we started our tour led by the doctor at the facility. The facility was surprisingly advanced and very comparable to what we see in the United States. The facility was not large and did not have many resources but the doctor said they humbly try to help everyone they can. There were many different rooms for different therapies-speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and special education. We learned about a new therapy technique used by the speech pathologist that was so simple yet very effective and easy to apply in one's home. This was a box filled with confetti and covered with tulle that children would blow on and make the confetti move all around; this was used to improve linguistic abilities. Next we entered an occupational therapy room and saw a nine year old girl, Ema, who was missing parts of both her arms slightly above the elbow as well as her leg. They were amputated upon birth. She acquired quite the fan base among us! All of the sudden, she took off her shoe on the foot she still had, took out markers, and started drawing a flower with her foot..better than most of us..(all of us). It was incredible!! Madison was especially moved by the abilities and beautiful, happy personality of this little girl since she is also missing part of her left arm below the elbow. Before we left, she asked the mom and Ema if she could take a picture with Ema, and she showed them that she was similar to her. They agreed. (Madison speaking): It was such an amazing moment for me. Her spunk, spirit, and determination reminded me so much of myself when I was her age. I gave her a hug after the picture, wished her good luck with all her endeavors, and had to leave as I was on the verge of tears! It was a beautiful beautiful experience for me❤️

While we were leaving, Lauren smiled at a baby and the mom thrust the baby into her arms! Sean also left the toy bear with the little boy to keep. It was a fantastic visit! 
After this, we went to Landivar University, a Jesuit university in Xela. They greeted us with extreme kindness and gave us a tour of their school. We saw the chapel, their classrooms, and the library. The technology at the school was very advanced and modern, the microscopes in the labs put Alter Hall to shame, in look and in odor (they didn't smell like cats)! We then sat in an auditorium and mingled with other students our age. We watched videos about the school and they gave us a gift bag with a t-shirt, a pen, and a keychain! After this we all got a picture with the students and the faculty, and of course threw up the X; the Guatemalan students were confused but went along with it anyways. Then we had leftover time to continue talking with students and viewing the school and taking selfies, of course. After this we returned to the school and headed back to our host homes for a delicious lunch and great conversation. 

Check back for another post tonight! Adios! 
Hola everyone! Kate and Megan here. We've been having a blast here in Guatemala! Yesterday we started our day off with Spanish class. We practiced songs in a group and impressed the locals! Then, a local nurse came to teach us some Spanish medical terminology. We were able to role play as patients in a Guatemalan clinic and the performances were superb👌🏼! Next, we visited a midwife. She was small but mighty with 51 years of experience! Just before we got there, a baby was born into this world and fireworks were shooting off left and right. It was quite the celebration! We even got a photo with the dad!

Next, we all went to our home stays for lunch. Our host families filled us to the brim with authentic delicacies ranging from fried cauliflower to an entire fish (eyeballs and bones included). After lunch, we left for a talk on migration. We learned about migration and the hope that the migrants wish to find in their restaurant, rather than guerilla tactics from the past. They were very knowledgable and we were privileged to have the chance to speak with them. It definitely gives us a new perspective on immigration in the US! After getting some ice cream, we headed off to play in the biggest fútbol (translation: soccer) game of our lives against a local Guatemalan team. Special thanks to our amazing cheerleader, Carol, who was constantly advising us from the sidelines with loudly shouted directions and praises. Also, a shoutout to our goalie, Mary, and our center mid, Allie Demboski, for keeping our team alive. Your commitment made it all worthwhile! Our professor, Diane, really took one for the team when taking a head-on collision with a 31-year-old soccer player. However, she bounced back and we continued strong! Parents, no worries: we were safe, we were strong, and we finished a 4-0 loss. In our hearts we were the true winners, and we have faith that we would have made a comeback had the game continued. Unfortunately, our game came to an anticlimactic end when the ball flew over the fence and was run over by a car.

After the game, we returned to our school to have a movie night. We viewed a documentary about the coffee farm that we will be visiting Thursday. More on that to come. We then went our separate ways to stay with our host families, the loving and caring environments that have already taught us so much. We love and miss you all! Adios, Megan and Kate. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Coming from Sean and Katie. On Monday we were given a history of Guatemala. We learned that Guatemala means the place of the forest. Guatemala has endured much suffering through from 1960-1996. More than 150,000 were killed, 400 villages destroyed, and 40,000 disappeared, 1 million internally displaced, 150,000 refugees, and 50,000 in resistance. Much of the destruction was due to the civil war between the people and the government.
Next we split into two groups: weaving and the Mayan sauna and alternative medicine. The weaving is an association for over 400 women who are victims of war. The women founded this group to come together and weave as a means to forget. We were able to practice on a traditional backstrap loom and afterward shop at the store to help support the women. The textiles were beautiful and well made. The whole group enjoyed themselves!
The other group visited a traditional Mayan temascal, or hot sauna, and learned more about natural medicine in Guatemala. We were introduced to these home remedies by Vanessa, an expert in the medicinal properties of native Guatemalan plants. Vanessa's family then treated us to homemade guacamole and herbal tea while we took turns in the hot sauna. We all felt very cleansed and refreshed by the experience, and we felt incredibly welcomed by Vanessa and her family!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 3. Blog #1

Hola familias! We have been having technical difficulties the past few days so we apologize for the delay with the blog but we should be good from here on out. Expect future blogs to be posted in the mornings when we have access to wifi!

On Day 1: we arrived at airport and were greeted by Rolando, Fidel, and Gloria! It was chaotic but we figured it out and started on our journey to Antigua! We stayed at Hotel Posado San Vicente! It was very beautiful. We explored Antigua and had dinner with our telecollaborative partners. They were very interested in showing us around Antigua so we were able to go in a huge group and explore the city with them for a while! It was a lot of fun to see them!

On  Day 2: We woke up very early for our 3 hour drive to Xela! We saw lots of wonderful and sad things on our drive! When we arrived in Xela we went to the house of a Shamon (also an anthropology professor at the college) to participate in a Mayan Ceremony. We all thought it was very peaceful and beautiful. It involved different colored candles and incense to pray for our families and safe travels! We were happy to be able to share that moment with one another and the Shamon. For lunch we are at a restaurant in Xela! Had absolutely delicious pineapple juice!! Then we went to the school to meet up with our families! They were excited to meet us and we took off right away with them to stay the night. A lot of people were nervous and stressed because we don't know much Spanish but we managed as best we could and hopefully it will get easier! Overall, all was well and we look forward to the adventures of today!

Blog as soon as we can!

Coming to you from Brianna and Olivia :)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

All is Well!

Hello, this is Leah Dunn and I am stateside until next Monday. I have been in touch with the Guatemala gang and they are with their host families in Xela. Everything is OK! We are working out the technical difficulties with the blog to allow those in Guatemala the ability to post their stories and photos. Stay tuned!