Two weeks ago, Belmont Study Abroad came to study fair-trade coffee farming and international business here in Guatemala. This trip has special meaning for Eric and I because it’s how we met and also what inspired us to lead the life we’re living right now.
Study abroad is a fantastic experience, but sometimes when you put 20+ personalities together for 10 days straight, you just never know how it will turn out. I can honestly say, I think this group of students was the best bunch the Guatemala trip has ever seen.
They were so ready to dive right into Guatemalan life, no matter how uncomfortable it was. They opened their hearts and minds to truly understanding “Why Guatemala is Poor” and “The Genius of Poverty.” They graciously allowed Eric and I to be their guides, and what follows are some of the highlights of the journey we traveled together.
We started out the trip in Monte Cristo with cultural exchanges between our CEMOC students and the Belmont students. Here’s our Guatemalan kiddos showing off their musical skills playing marimba and the upright bass.
And here’s the Belmont students bravely sharing an impromptu Electric Slide dance lesson with our Guatemalan students.
After our time in Chimaltenango, we headed for Chajul, but first made a stop at the famous market in Chichicastenango.
Here’s the group in Chajul learning about coffee processing and how manual labor is often more efficient than technology for the folks at Asociacion Chajulense.
The next picture is of our home experience in Chajul making boxboles with a local family.
And here I am learning how to grind cornmeal by hand.
After our lunches we hosted a playtime with children from the Chajul community. This is a picture of our professors and students playing “musical chairs” with the kids.
And here’s a panoramic shot of whole group together playing a game.
After being in Chajul for a few days, we headed to Antigua to enjoy the “Old Town” and relax a bit.
But my work was not done. We met up with the current Belmont Enactus president, faculty advisor, and a group from Father Ryan High School in Nashville to do a service day at the “Be a Blessing” orphanage in Jalapa. We did some serious painting work to start with.
Played with the girls for a while until they were worn out and wanted to be carried by our “Be a Blessing” student leader from Father Ryan.
And here’s a shot of our whole group together.
It was such a dream to hang out with the sweet girls we’ve been raising funds for over the last three years.
And lastly, here’s a final picture of our finished painting project.
All in all, we had a phenomenal time hosting our own little slice of Nashville for a few days. The impact of their time here has been lasting, I believe. There are some students wanting to come back and serve in Guatemala this summer. Others walked away with a new perspective on poverty, wealth, and the lasting effects of US foreign policy. And our Belmont Enactus team had some refreshing life breathed into its international projects.
Thank you, Belmont, for visiting. You all also breathed life into these weary travelers. Guate misses you already!