Over February vacation, School the World gave me the unforgettable opportunity to visit the community of Capuchinas in Guatemala. As we departed Logan International Airport in Boston on an early Saturday morning, I looked forward to painting classrooms and building a playground for the kids in Capuchinas. However, after spending just a week in Guatemala, I can say that I learned so much more than I ever would have imagined. This experience has opened my eyes to the heartbreaking reality of poverty and malnutrition in Guatemala. After seeing many families endure unimaginable living conditions and hardships, I have realized that there is a multitude of privileges in my life that I often take for granted.
Every day, I was amazed by the kindness, eagerness, and unity of the entire community. It was so powerful to see the dedication from the people of Capuchinas to improve their quality of education; from the littlest kids who were not even old enough to attend school to our veteran van drivers, everyone grabbed a paintbrush to paint the school.
Even prior to the completion of the new school, when the kids learned in makeshift classroom areas, such as a kitchen, the learning environment was just as engaging. As I watched the kids jump out of their seats with their hands raised and their faces lit up in excitement after answering the teacher’s question, I told myself that I would bring their passion and enthusiasm for learning back with me to the United States.
Another thing from this experience that I will never forget is the joy that the kids found in little things. When we played with bubbles for the first time during recess, they were mesmerized by the way a cluster of bubbles magically drifted with the wind. After successfully popping a bubble, the kids would look back at us wide-eyed, eagerly waiting for more to appear. It had also never occurred to me that they would have so much fun going down an ordinary playground slide. While most kids in the United States have access to an entire playground park within walking distance of their home, many of the kids in Capuchinas had never seen a slide before.