Serving, Exploring, and Developing Guatemala: Part 1 of 2
By Sarah Yardley
Each year, some of the girls of Discovery Ranch for Girls (DRG) get the unique experience of traveling to Guatemala for seven days. The purpose of this trip is service, cultural exploration, and developing new levels of insight. Outdoor Recreation Director, David Mosse, plans this trip each year. Motivated by the desire to provide even more opportunities for our students, DRG began the annual trip about three years ago.
While in Guatemala, the students have the chance to volunteer their time at a local school teaching English to kindergarteners. In addition, they visit historical sites and enjoy the beauty of the world around them. Every day brought something new, challenging and wonderful.
The First Day of Service
Their first full day in Guatemala conCross-Culturalnderful and authentic Guatemalan breakfast; which would become the norm for the girls over the next 6 days. The girls had the opportunity to meet with Don Carlos, the Cross Cultural Solutions Guatemala program President. After that visit, they each wrote a letter to someone that they cared for deeply or someone who had heavily impacted their lives. With their letters, they hiked for two hours into the mountains of Guatemala. When they found a good enough spot, the girls planted a tree, and with the tree, went their letters. Planting the tree along with the letters was symbolic. It showed appreciation to the earth that gives us so much. Also, the gesture honored the people to whom they had written. The idea is that the gratitude and love would play a part in the tree’s growth.
A Routine of Growth
The following days the girls followed a similar routine. They ate their amazing breakfast and went to the school they were volunteering to teach English to the kindergarteners. The girls had a blast teaching the kids the different parts of the body. They sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” to help the kids remember what they were learning. Not only did the girls teach kids each morning, they also got to participate in the kid’s recess time and play with them outside.
David described the girl’s first experience with the kids, “[They were] filled with apprehension and excitement as they entered the room. The girls soon found themselves immersed in their lesson and doing a wonderful job of bridging the language barrier and interacting with the kids. I was blown away by their willingness to be silly with them and also present the information effectively.”
After having recess time with the kids each day, the girls would work on painting the outside of the school. Not only did they give the outside of the building a fun and welcoming new color, but they painted a mural of kids playing on one of the walls as well.