Saturday, June 3, 2017

Final Day!

Hey all, this is Alayna Ricketts, a student, and Diane Ceo-DiFrancesco, Spanish professor, checking in for the final time on the 2017 Guatemala Service Learning Trip! We had a fun-filled last day of adventures...
- We split into two groups today. One group hiked the volcano Pacaya, while the other enjoyed a shopping day in Antigua. On the volcano, there were a few falls and some difficult terrain, but we successfully completed the climb. We roasted marshmallows and explored a couple of natural caves. Also we compared lava rock from the 2010 and 2014 explosions. The weather was beautiful with no rain and a blanket of clouds that surrounded us as we sat to eat lunch. The group had the opportunity to stop at the Lava shop on the volcano! This shop sells jewelry made from lava rock that supports the communities that live along the sides on the volcano. We enjoyed the hike and its sights! The other group's day in Antigua was filled with delicious food and some sites in Antigua. Beginning the day with a breakfast at a cafe, the group had a full but relaxing day. They went to to markets, an historic convent, and a jade factory.
- We gathered together around 6 pm for a dinner at Hotel Santa Ana and a presentation on gang rehabilitation.All found the presentation eye-opening to the reality of life for some in Guatemala. We ended our final night with group reflection and celebration. Students and practitioners shared the surprises, joys, and special moments of the week. during the celebration, the group ate wonderful cake made by Lisa and listened to a rap created by the students!

As I end my second week with Xavier University Occupational Therapy students in Guatemala, I wish to express deep gratitude for the opportunity to work with these fabulous young people. They have been so curious and open to new learning, anxious to communicate in Spanish, and willing to participate in experiences outside their comfort zones. ~Diane

Hello, this is Carol, the group leader. I am grateful for the completion of another successful service learning experience in Guatemala; this, in fact, our 10th year. Our week has been full, fun, and fabulous. At each of our 3 service sites the dedication of the parents of children with disabilities has been amazing. The parents give their all to improve the lives of their children. Similarly, the love and support provided by the direct line caregivers and professionals is inspirational. The beauty of the people of Guatemala shines through in their every day and endless love they give to their children. Additionally, it has been a real honor and privilege to learn more of the Guatemalan culture and to consider issues of social justice. While in some ways unique to a specific culture or country, issues of social justice also cross cultures and countries and concern us all as we strive to make the world a better place.

Lastly, a big thanks goes to the parents of each occupational therapy student in allowing and supporting your daughter to participate in this service learning experience. Tonight, as we reflected upon the week, I was touched as several students shared that the first thing they would tell when they arrived home was to thank their parents for making this trip possible. Wow. Parents, you are raising daughters who will make great occupational therapists. To the therapists, too, we are grateful they gave up a week of their vacation time to give so freely of their  expertise and their care. Lastly, our hosts were fabulous as they assured not only our safety but connected us to our service sites and facilitated our learning. From Steve, our host, to Rolando and Lisa to all our drivers and interpreters, we extend much gratitude and appreciation.

Carol Scheerer

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