Blog Post 3: A humbling and rewarding experience

The first night in Quixayï was pretty warm and I’m almost regretting my decision not to sleep on the roof in a tent, like half of the delegation will be for the ten days we are here. The first morning here we awoke to the sound of some intense rumbling, and although we may be completely wrong, we believe it may be the Atitlan volcano expressing its presence (completely unnecessary as it’s the largest peak around).

We ate some breakfast and showed up at the Centro Educativo Comunal Mixto Santa Cruz to help frame and cover the roof with tin, paint, and prepare the school for classes on Wednesday (March 26). The school has three rooms and is used as an elementary/middle school during the day and high school in the afternoon. I recall wondering to myself how we would be able to get it all done within two and half days without many of the tools we use back home, but with Marcelo at the helm (our carpenter for the trip), and teamwork we accomplished everything! The first day was long and hot, we were all just starting to get used to the change in climate; being out in the sun for eight hours certainly sped up the acclimatization. On the second day while more than half of the delegation worked on the roof a few of us got to paint pictures inside of a Mayan symbol template. Needless to say, the break from the heat was welcomed.

Wednesday afternoon was the reopening ceremony and we were invited to attend. A few parents spoke, there was a dance and singing by locals, and the director presented the CCDA and Education in Action with certificates of recognition and gifts to express their gratitude for their contributions and our work on the school. After that we were invited to go on stage where the teachers from the school presented us with handmade bags as tokens of their appreciation and we danced and sang. After the formal ceremony we were invited to a reception at the school where we all got to sit together and eat. The whole experience was so incredibly humbling. People kept thanking us, but all I wanted to do was thank them for allowing us to come there, help out, and make us feel like a valued part of their community. What a rewarding few days.

We head to the beneficio tomorrow for a tour of the coffee processing operations and learn more about what the CCDA (Campesino Committee of the Highlands Comitï Campesino del Altiplano) does. We will be standing in the back of a truck for the ride!

Until then!

Jen Botincan