Six members of the university community are spending their Spring Break in Guatemala as part of FIU alternative Breaks. They will help construct a school in the San Juan Comalapa community, working alongside local workers and other volunteers in re-using trash to develop the school’s infrastructure. FIU News is following the team’s journey through updates provided by the group members.
The days just get progressively more exciting here in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala. Our morning started with eating breakfast at the hotel. We ate scrambled eggs and a delicious tomato sauce with, of course, tortillas. Right after breakfast, we all hiked straight to the school to work. Many of us in the group took on different tasks such as sifting gravel used for their filtration system and scraping old paint and rust off the sign in the main entrance of the school.
After a few hours of that, we joined Genevieve – one of the staff members from Long Way Home – and helped her with her English class. None of us were allowed to speak any Spanish to the students to help them better understand the language. The lesson for that day was vegetables. The kids learned up to 15 vegetables! We all helped the kids individually write down all the English words with their Spanish translations as Genevieve showed them the actual vegetables from their kitchen at Long Way Home. After that we got to the most exciting part of the lesson, the kids were all learning a popular One Direction song called “What Makes You Beautiful” along with a dance. We all split up and taught the kids the choreographed dance Genevieve had prepared for them. It was a lot of fun getting to dance with the kids.
After this we all waited for lunch to be served. For lunch we had guacamole, carne de res (red meat) and a delicious rice with carrots. After lunch, we got back to work again. For the rest of the day I sifted gravel. It was a lot of work, from shoveling to the actual sifting of the rocks, my arms were terribly sore by the end of it all. After work, we all went back to the hotel and got ready for cultural night.
Cultural night was held in the other hotel where another FIU volunteer group was staying. When we got there, music was already playing from the marimba, a traditional wooden instrument used in San Juan Comalapa. Three men played on the Marimba as one woman played on a large drum. We all got up to dance the traditional Guatemalan dance that consists of men dancing with their hands behind their back and the women flapping their skirts as they rock side to side. For dinner, the cooks used a fire pit with a wire grill over it to grill potatoes, asparagus and churrasco.
Tomorrow will be our last day of work at Long Way Home.
– Allison Vallejos