Well, golly do we have a lot to catch you up on! Life has been pretty crazy here in Panajachel, Guatemala the last couple of weeks, SO crazy, in fact, that we have just had not a moment to blog! But never fear…. I have a couple of nice, juicy paragraphs to update you!
The computer officially arrived from the United States and boy, is it glorious! It’s so shiny and new, even though I won’t be able to actually see the kids using it, I can only imagine their excitement when they get to play on it for the first time! Now that we have the computer, we were able to start downloading and saving all of the educational games and resources we found to go along with the school curriculum. The best part about this was actually getting to play the games—I PERSONALLY learned a lot of Spanish. After we finished downloading everything and organizing it all into folders based on grade (maternal, pre-kinder, kinder) and category (vowels, animals, etc..), the head of the preschool here at Pana came to the education office and Luis (bless his fluently Spanish heart) explained to her in detail where everything was and how to work it all.
In the last few weeks we have also finished up the Spanish-language evaluations in all of the preschools—Panajachel, El Barranco, Chukmuk, San Antonio, Tierra Linda, and San Jorge. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t go to two of the schools, which I was really bummed about… Nothing like sitting at home by yourself bored, as the rest of your team gets to play with the sweetest, cutest kids ever. Maybe I’m biased, but something about the children here is more heart-melting than usual. On the bright side, while I was stuck at home, I had plenty of time to enter individual evaluations from the preschools into a Google Drive spreadsheet. We are currently working on analyzing all of the data from these evaluations and writing a report on our findings—which schools did the best, which children improved, under which circumstances do the children succeed the most on the evaluations, etc. It is very interesting looking at all of this information. In the different schools, 77% to 100% of the kids do not speak Spanish at home, only Kaqchikel, the local Mayan language. Yet despite this most of the kids were very successful, which really shows how beneficial the Mayan Families preschool program is.
Today is our roommates’, the IU Nourishers, last day at work which is a bittersweet occasion indeed. They have made so much progress on their garden and the department they were working for game them a heartfelt thank you for their work this morning, our house will feel so empty without them!! One of the members from the VT team returned home after week, so after this weekend the total number of people in our house will have dwindled from 10 to 3. Therefore there is only one thing to do, have a going away party! Tonight, we are splurging on a piñata, cake, and will spend the evening listening to some classic Latino tunes and relaxing under the pomegranate tree in the yard of our lovely, pink casa. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend the night. Over the last 5 weeks, the Virginia Tech and Indiana University teams have gotten so close, we are all really sad to be saying goodbye. I guess this is one of the beauties of Nourish International though… Not only helping the community and making a serious impact on the people here, but also forming lasting friendships with other students doing the same thing. I wonder if the IU girls will ever see this….. (HALLOOO LADIES!!)
As for exploration, we spontaneously ventured to Semuc Champey last weekend, which we all agreed was quite possibly the BEST and MOST AMAZING experience of our entire lives. Not only did we hike through the jungle to get to the pools of Semuc, but we also jumped off of a bridge and flew off of a rope swing into the river, and went caving by candlelight (all for one cheap price of 190 Quetzals–$25 USD). The weekend before we boated over to another town on the Lake called San Marcos to jump off of their famous “el trampolin” which is, in reality, not a trampoline, but a huge wooden platform that you leap from into the lake 30 feet below. I’m sure you must be thinking, “Gosh, how many things can these people jump off in Guatemala?!” …It does seem like a lot.
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