Hola friends and family!
It’s hard to believe that another two weeks has already passed by. My time with Casa Gloria is going so quickly, and I want to soak up every experience that I can! Each week brings new opportunities for me to learn and to grow closer with the staff and kids at Casa Gloria, as well as with my host family. I’m so thankful for them all!
In my last blog, I mentioned that the founder of Casa Gloria’s name is also Jenna. As you might imagine, having two Jenna’s around could cause some confusion, so the two of us had decided before I arrived that I would go by a different name while I was here. I told Jenna that some of my friends call me Jordy (a combination of my first and last names) and she thought that was the perfect solution. Well, upon arrival in Santa Cruz, my host family had a hard time pronouncing “Jordy,” and also promptly told me that it was a boy’s name. This was confirmed when someone told me they were looking for “Señor Jordy,” to which they were shocked and slightly embarrassed when I told them that I was, in fact, the Jordy they were looking for. Anyway, the result is that, to anyone in Casa Gloria, I am Jordy and, to anyone from my host family, I am Nicole (my middle name). That being said, whenever I meet someone new, I never know how to introduce myself because, so far, I’ve gone by three different names (Jenna, Jordy, and Nicole) in the six weeks that I’ve spent in Guatemala!
One thing that I love about my host family, is that we all are genuinely curious and interested in learning about our respective cultures, especially my host mom, Vilma, and me. I cannot tell you how many times she has graciously taken the time to explain to me when I do or say something that is a little culturally “off,” and then to ask me how I would handle the same situation if I was at home. It’s so wonderful to know that we are both able to learn from each other! For example, at the beginning of last week, I was having a conversation with Vilma about cooking and she mentioned that she almost never uses her oven, but that she wanted to learn how to make a few things in it. Naturally, I offered to teach her how to make cookies. She readily agreed, and this resulted in me, my host sister, Sulmi, and Vilma all making a batch of Joanna Gaines’ chocolate chip cookies together (picture #1)! We had so much fun, especially when the cookies were ready to eat! As far as other things go related to my host family, I’m happy to report that I’ve learned a few more Spanish songs, so now I don’t have to keep repeating the same two over and over again. At this rate, I’m going to have a whole repertoire prepared by the time I leave!
In the past two weeks, I also traveled to both Tikal and Semuc Champey. In Tikal (pictures #2, #3, and #4), I learned about Mayan history, climbed temples and pyramids, and even saw a tarantula! It was a powerful experience to witness a way of life that, now, is completely non-existent. Jenna, Evelia (Casa Gloria’s psychologist), and I also had a great time getting to know each other better during the 18 total hours of driving that we did on that trip. Let’s just say, it got to the point where we were taking personality tests, so we DEFINITELY know each other well now! At Semuc Champey (pictures #5 and #6), Mayda (Vilma’s younger sister) and I swam in the gorgeous, crystal-blue waters and dove into an underwater cave. We were even able to tour one of the Lanquin Caves (picture #7) and see where some Mayan sacrifices took place!
My internship at Casa Gloria has also been quite eventful over the past two weeks. I’ve continued working on my normal projects like finishing the Christmas cards, taking dogs to the vet, and teaching English classes, but I’ve also taken kids to doctor appointments, weighed babies, and celebrated Día de los Muertos. There is truly never a dull moment around here! I have come to really enjoy teaching the English classes because the kids are always so enthusiastic and eager to learn the material I give them. It can be challenging due to the differing levels of education and English knowledge that the kids have, but overall, those classes are some of the most fun I have throughout the week! This past week, I also had the opportunity to share a little bit of my story with Casa Gloria’s kids, as well as the reason why I chose to work with Casa Gloria in the first place. I shared how they had already deeply impacted me in the few short weeks that I’d been here and how grateful I was to be here with them. These kids have experienced some of the most cruel and disgusting forms of human behavior to exist, and the way they’ve picked themselves up and support each other is so inspiring. This was a really powerful and beautiful moment for me and one that I will cherish forever.
As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers!
Much love y hasta la próxima,