Con permiso, let me just tell you about my work here in Antigua, Guatemala. I signed up for AIESEC last year to be able to travel somewhere to Latin America. I didn’t have much trouble deciding which project to pick, the team from AIESEC Guatemala are very professional and did a great job in the invitations and decription emails. It is called “Ambassadors of Guatemala”. Who wouldn’t want to feel that kind of recognition for their experiences in another country? I was hooked. Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America and I couldn’t wait to see what it has to offer. AIESEC together with the Govermental Insititution of Tourism and reputed Spanish schools are showing Guatemala’s beauty through all the participants’ eyes. Besides working in a volunteer project in my school, they are also offering me 2 hours of Spanish classes every day! How wonderful is that? 🙂
Academia de Español Probigua – Proyectos Bibliotecas Guatemala is where I work, learn Spanish and teach English to my Spanish teachers. Probigua is a non profit organisation that has two main goals: teaching Spanish and helping education reach poor communities in Guatemala. I find this so incredibly interesting and such an unique experience because I have also worked on a similar situation in Romania through OvidiuRO. The Spanish taught to the students of Probigua comes with an intensive, total-immersion experience, featuring 3 to 7 hours of one-on-one classes daily plus the opportunity of living with a Guatemalan family to learn about the culture and broaden language skills! I am so lucky to be one of these students and to be integrated into such a nice family. Not only is Sonia a great cook, but she also has a lot of patience and helps us, chicos, with the language during meals. My room is great and I have a perfect view from my terrace.
Probigua aims high and thinks big. They are helping the children of Guatemala by donating the school’s profits to maintain the Library Bus. Additionally, they establish and preserve libraries in the many rural places whereby there is no access to books. I was heartbroken while travelling with el Bibliobus to two of the poor communities close to Antigua: Magdalena Milpas Altas – a village on Volcan de Agua and Alotenango – a village at the bottom of the active Volcan de Fuego, which actually errupted on Saturday covering Antigua with ashes for many days.
Magdalena Milpas Altas
The kids had an earthquake evacuation drill and the lucky ones got to ride with the ambulance/firemen, los bomberos. It was also the school’s anniversary so the all the kids had activities in the yard and participated in a football competition.
It is incredible to be here and see children that RUN for the bus.They are super excited to see books and try to keep calm although you can see their sparkles of joy in their eyes while waiting for their teacher’s instructions and the librarian’s offerings ♥
I sit down with them and tell them about my country. Most of them haven’t heard of it and ask me if I am a gringo. I then switch to fairytales like Count Dracula and Transylvania as the heart of Romania and they listen carefully. 🙂 One of them, Carlos, the kid with sad eyes but a kind smile actually knows where Romania is on the map. I’m very much impressed. He pays much attention to my stories and corrects my Spanish. He then buys some sweets with his 1 Quetzal only so I can try it. He is first on the left.
At the bottom of Volcan de Fuego lies the village Alotenango. The volcano shows a bit of anxiety as we approach, it exhales fumes every now and then and some of the forests lower from the crater are burning. The people of Alotenango live in harsh conditions of poverty and lack of water. The women usually gather in the main square to wash their clothes at the local lavatorium. Their kids wander around playing with boxes in the dust. They are happy, but shy at the sight of foreigners.
Life is calm out here. Very tranquila. The time is not rushing anywhere and the people seem to know that very well. We park the 3000 book carrying bus by the main park and wait for new students to come in and ask to read something interesting.
This cutie saw me climbing el Bibliobus and decided to join. He goes in to do some basic maths practice afterwards. He is 8 and didn’t go to school that day because he hadn’t done his homework, he says. He can’t read that well, but he is good with numbers.
Out of curiosity we also visit some classes in the nearby school and find the children practicing their sewing on patterned tablecloths. They are happy to tell us the few words they know in English and then show us their masterpieces. When the picture time comes, they goof around. Kids will be kids. 🙂
Most of the children around the lavatorium are curious about us ‘gringos’ but too shy to interact. I sit down since I’m actually quite tall here and start presenting myself and shaking hands to make them feel more at ease.
If anyone is interested in joining the projects of Aiesec Guatemala, you can find more information here 🙂
Until next time, keep on smiling!