It’s unfair to evaluate the contentedness of a Guatemalan citizen based on my own definitions of comfort and happiness. Still, I catch myself doing just that. While here I’ve thought, “Life must be boring without Wi-Fi,” and “These people have to prepare their food every day completely from scratch. What a burden!” From a logical standpoint, I know I am wrong to assume that lacking Wi-Fi is boring and that preparing food is a burden, but it’s hard to separate my standards from local ones.
If somebody showed me a picture of an average home in a village in Guatemala, and told me I could gift the family one item, I might choose a microwave, Wi-Fi, or plumbing, because those are the things that I would want for myself. If asked, however, a Guatemalan might choose something completely different—maybe books or dried corn. My point is, no matter how good the intentions, to truly help others one needs to inquire; to ask these others how he can best be of assistance
I have been given the amazing opportunity to talk with school staff to understand their needs, and it has been eye-opening. This morning at Chulumal III, the director explained to us that his number one priority is to expand the collection of books at his school, which would improve an initiative that the school runs called “Leemos Juntos,” since the initiative requires that each student read for a half hour daily during the week, and many of the government-issued book simply are not captivating. If you asked me, however, I would have suggested using the first available funds to buy a freezer to store food. The government is often late in sending the 2.08 Q (around 25 cents) per student budget that it promises for snacks, so a freezer could help ensure that students never have to go without these refracciones. Shows how little I know about what the community needs to be happy and comfortable at school.
Dialogue is important. I am so glad that, across languages and lifestyles, America’s School the World team and communities in Guatemala talk. Through this international teamwork, needs are being met and contentedness is rising.