aB Guatemala: The journey begins

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, beginning with this first-person piece below provided by the group members.

Allison Vallejos, Amanda Garcia, Maylen Morales, Megan Perezz, Nathalie Veizaga and Yesnia Joyas at Miami International Airport before the depart for Guatemala.

Nathalie Veizaga, Yesnia Joyas, Maylen Morales, Megan Perez, Allison Vallejos and Amanda Garcia at Miami International Airport before the depart for Guatemala.

Nathalie VeizagaNathalie Veizaga ’17
Major: Music Education
My life goal is to help others in every way I can, and leaving this world a better place than I left it. This spring break I’ll be going to Guatemala in hopes to not only build a school, but to make a positive impact on the lives of these children.


Allison VallejosAllison Vallejos ’16
Major: Biology/Premed
There is nothing more exciting than traveling out to a country you have never been before but it is even more exciting to be doing it all for a good cause. I could not imagine doing anything more productive for my spring break than helping build a school for the children in Guatemala! I am truly blessed to have this opportunity and cannot wait for the memories this trip will create.

Maylen MoralesMaylen Morales ’15
Major: Biology/Premed
I’m ready to embark on a life changing trip with five other ladies that have the same passion and drive as me. This is the first time I go on a mission trip and I am excited to do something different, but most of all I’m looking forward to making a change in someone else’s life.


Megan PerezMegan Perez ’15
Major: Biology
I’m most excited to feel like we can make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged youth.


Amanda GarciaAmanda Garcia ’12
Community Relations Manager
I look forward to being submerged in the Mayan culture and have the opportunity to truly make a difference in a disadvantaged community. I am excited to see how this school is built using solely sustainable products!


Yesenia JoyasYesenia Joyas ’11
My name is Yesenia Joyas, I am one of the site leaders for the FIU Alternative Breaks (aB) Guatemala 2014 service trip. aB will be partnering with Long Way Home, a non-profit organization that uses sustainable design and materials to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment, and environmental stewardship. This is my first year with aB and I am excited for the opportunity to be an active citizen and encourage my team to do the same.

This Spring Break, I will be traveling with five other FIU students to San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala, where we will be taking part in the construction of one of the schools in the community.  We will be working alongside local workers and other volunteers in re-using trash to continue to develop the school’s infrastructure. Tires, plastic bottles, and dirt, will be used to form walls for the school, which provides education for 66 students grades K-6.

Among the many generous donors who contributed toward our cause and made our service trip possible, we also received a grant from the FIU Global Civic Engagement (GCE) Student Advisory Board that allowed us to purchase a backpack for each of the 66 students! The backpacks will each contain 2 composition notebooks, pencils, pens, and erasers. We are very excited to have the opportunity to provide these essential educational resources to these children– school supplies that will further reinforce a rich learning environment.

After months of fundraising with my team, I am beyond excited to head out on our journey. I am excited to meet the children and parents who will be impacted by our direct service, and who I’m sure we will learn a lot from. I am eager to learn from these incredible human beings who make life possible in extreme living conditions. It’s important to remain humbled, grounded, aware, and maintain an immense appreciation for the privileged lives we live. We don’t choose the hands we’re dealt and, luckily, my parents worked to give me a pretty great one. Through my active service on this trip, I hope to get these kids a few steps closer toward living the lives they deserve to live.