Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Last Full Month as a PCV

Cooking in my house with Raquelita and Mary

Giant group at the Close of Service Conference. 

Hannah, Grace, Melissa, Dr. Ball, Elizabeth, Christina, Mags- representing Youth Development

Last game against Lydia. It was very rough. I got pretty beat up, but we won.

GuateMOLLY, take two! Molly came for another quick visit. It was so lovely. She was extremely helpful as far relieving stress and processing all of the changes.

Our team was invited to play in the pre-game before the males championship game. We played the team that we beat in the finals last season.

Kabobs for Lydia's Birthday!!

Happy Birthday Mary!

Natural hot water in Panibaj, the farthest away village in Patzun. We drove about a half an hour in Anacleto's car and then we hiked for an hour and a half. The kids were such troopers! My partner, Raquel, was more helpful to me than I was to her- like when we were crossing more "dangerous" areas.  The hot waters are located in a valley that has a river which separates Chimaltenango from Solola. 

On the way back we stopped in Chunimachicaj another village to enjoy the most amazing view!

Raquelita's talent show performance!

Great news! Patzún will not be left completely alone.  My friend from training, Callie, was elected as the PCV Leader. She will be staying in Guatemala another year, spending 50% of her time as a PC Leader and 50% of her time working with a local NGO. Part of the 50% PC time FORUNTATLY involves her visiting Patzún every two months!!  This is so wonderful because my teachers are not completely prepared to do the project alone; however with the encouragement of Callie every couple of months, they just might be able to do it.  Not to mention the director of education is very collaborative and willing to enforce the Youth Development project.  The above photo is from the teacher training that Callie and I did with the director of education to help the teachers and principals with the transition.  Hooray for sustainability and youth development!

A small group of females helped put together creative Valentine's for a candy cupid delivery fundraising actvity for the school.

I was able to get some International teaching experience this month!  I taught on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. The most dedicated yogi's were Guicho, Mary and family.  The little ones(3 yr. old, 5 yr. old)  were surprisingly great at yoga!!  I had the opportunity to work with a group of 38 middle school students, as well.  It was a wonderful experience...almost wish that I would have started teaching sooner.

Raquel and I had a super fun day in the market! Look how much we bought!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

January 2012

This month has probably been my hardest, most emotional month in Peace Corps. It was like a roller coaster. I'm going to choose not to go public with all of the details. If you are interested, I am happy to have a conversation or e-mail with you.

Ok, now that sounds like there is some huge secret, which is not the case. In very few words- We had an All Volunteer Conference where PC Washington informed us of mandatory changes that are taking place in the northern triangle in Central America. This personally effects me because I have to close my service (COS) by March 24th, instead of July 16. There are a ton more details and everyone was effected differently. Right now I am coping with wrapping up my life here and planning for my future...all in six weeks time, rather than six months. Needless to say, I am a little overwhelmed, BUT taking advantage of every single moment I have left as a PC Volunteer in Patzun!
Training group shrunk to 14 members. Such a fun group! I am going to miss them dearly.

Karen Raquel's first day of school! Adorable, right?!

Noehemi's 7th Birthday!  Oh, how's she grown since last year. It's not until you celebrate a second birthday with the family that you realize how long you've been here. Children grow up so fast.
Cheers! Christamas gift exchange with Raquel, Hector and Raquel.

Playing Santa Maggie with Mary and Anderson

Friday, February 3, 2012

December State-side

Silly Mags assumed that everyone in the states would have a camera. WRONG! Well, they do. They use their smart phones. Anyway, I do not have one photo from my week stay in Kansas. I had such a wonderful time, catching up with great friends, reuniting with Leawood South, meeting babies, seeing wedding albums, visiting Kelly's, and enjoying Christmas with the family. I could easily post three dozen photos of Addison, but don't quite have the Internet velocity to do so. She is precious!

Funny things that happened in the states (that I choose to make public)

- Having a personal conversation with my friend in Guatemala when Dad pulls up in the car, the smart phone cuts off, and my friend is now sharing her personal life with a car full of people via blue tooth radio

- Jumping out of a box to surprise Mums...almost gave her a heart attack

- Daddio falling asleep during my PC Guatemala presentation to the girls youth group

- I have to admit- going to the wrong airport and missing my flight back to Guatemala

- Hilarious responses while playing "The Game of Things"

NYE Crew! Best New Years Eve, EVER!!  We hung out in our hotel suite and played board games!

Arran and Addison at the NY Day family run. I had some great chats with RPCV's.

Let's go MAV's!! I was able to go to TWO games. We had a blast!  One night the man behind me caught a t-shirt and then gave it to me. Very exciting.

Family photo from Shrek Ice Museum. Recognize this photo from last year? Family tradition.
I genuinely missed my friends, family, team and routines here in Guatemala. I thought about my Guatemalan life a lot while in the states.

December in Patzun

I almost forgot how super busy December was! It was such a great month.

I had my first off road bike experience. Thomas, Luis and I rode our bikes about 20K to the Ixchimche ruins. We actually didn't get to go in and see the ruins, but enjoyed the trip.

My amazing basketball team threw a big surprise going away (for the holidays) party for me! Everyone brought something to share with the team. We ate lots of delicious food. Traditionally, everyone "dar-ed palabras" or shared words with me. This was definitely the highlight for me. My teammates and coach commented on my sportsmanship and team spirit. They mentioned how Patzun and Guatemala are not used to this type of comradery. More than winning two championships, I am proud that I was able to share sportsmanship and team spirit with my team. I guess the awkwardness of being the only one shaking hands before and after games, and encouraging my teammates to cheer paid off!

Birthday Festivities! Daddio was happy to remind me that I am now on the other side...closer to 30! Hector enjoyed this and continues to remind me.

Again, my amazing basketball team threw me a surprise birthday party! I got to play a game on my birthday, which we won. Unfortunate, minor injury- sprained ankle. And then the team came over with cake, drinks, and flowers!!

Hector's brother, Julio, organized a huge birthday lunch for me.  He brought delicious meat and tons of other food from Guatemala City. They all sang me happy birthday in English and in Spanish! And we ate another cake.

My site mates organized a delicious birthday dinner!  Laura made me hilarious t-shirts. Lyd gave me a cute shirt. Lhess got me the Glee Concert DVD! WUU!

Estela graduated from Nursing School in Antigua! After the ceremony, we went to her home in a village of Patun to celebrate with her family. It was touching how proud they were.

World AIDS Day!!  As I mentioned months ago, I have been working with the Social Worker from the Health Center.  Wtih funding from PEPFAR we organized a walk and forum for approximately 200 youth and 30 adults. 

 It was one of the most successful experiences I have had in my service.  I especially enjoyed the awareness walk through town. Everything was broadcasted on the local radio station. The students got involved, wearing matching t-shirts and preparing posters with messages. We handed out fliers to Patzuneros that were on the streets outside of their homes.
Lyd and I planned a surprise scavenger hunt for Lo's birthday!  It was a blast! Everyone got really into and were creative with their roles.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thanksgiving in Guatemala

In Patzun...
Lyd and Lhess prepared a delicious Thanksgiving Feast.

And then I prepared food for Anacleto and family. Last year, they prepared a lovely Thanksgiving feast for me. Surprisingly the kids did a wonderful job eating rare foods.

Molly brought some key ingredients when she came to visit so that I was able to make a true American Thanksgiving feast!

In Livingston and Rio Dulce...
Peace Corps awarded us some free vacation days. Without hesitation, I took advantage and traveled to the coast...
We took a twenty minute motorized boat ride along the silent, clean, breath-taking river to get off the boat and slilp and slide along a thirty minute hike to these amazing waterfalls! We hiked up, exploring the different bodies of wa
The view from our room in Livingston!!
 The girls- Susan, Christina, Linnea, Hannah, Elizabeth, and myself. *Brittany, not pictured. We enjoyed girl time- braiding hair, chatting, laughing, sipping wine, etc.
We made it the PC holiday hang out- the beach! It was perfect- no waves, not deep. From here we went on a hike to the seven alters, which were like waterfalls or smaller bodies of water, rocks, and
The girls on the bridge, heading to the beach. In Rio Dulce we went kayaking, swam in the hot springs, ate candel-lit dinners, floated in the river, played games, and enjoyed each other's company.
Unfortunately, after an amazingly perfect vacation, the very last leg of the trip six of the girls were assaulted at gun point on a Pullman bus from Guate to San Lucas. I must have the best guardian angel because I had been with them the entire weekend; the incident happened less than five minutes after I left them to take my direct Patzun bus. I wish there was something I could do to take away the pain they must feel. 

November 2011

I forgot to mention in the last blog- GLOW= Girls Leading Our World. It is an organization created by a PC volunteer in Romania in 1995. With the GLOW funds my basketball team helped do a basketball/leadership "Balon-azgo"camp for a group of females from Chuchuca and the orphans who attended the other part of the GLOW camp. *Photograph thanks to Dani, 9 yr. old

The girls enjoying their snack at the camp!

An amazing group from the United States, The Healing Hands Foundation, visited Patzun for a week.  It was an amazing experience for me. I was able to enter the operating room while the doctors and nurses were working diligently on patients. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. I also enjoyed the American culture in Patzun- big dinners, working hard, watching movies, listening to music, etc.  Here is their website if you are interested in learning more about their work or supporting the foundation:  http://www.thhfoundation.org/

November 1st is "Kite Day"= the happiest day in Guatemala.  The families make kites and go to the cemetery to pay respects to their diseased family members.  Anacleto, the kids and I went after the crowds had died down. Mary and the kids made me a special kite with my name on it!

Still playing basketball. Karina took this awesome picture of Lyida and I playing against each other.

I'm going to include Anacleto's origional words because he does a beautiful job expressing the importance of this event  
Mynor Yovani es uno de esos alumnos, que por cuestiones del destino, no tiene papá y este año le tocó graduarse.  Unos días antes me pidió en forma tímida que le hiciera el favor de ser su papá en los actos de graduación.  Ese día yo lo acompañe.  Me dio mucho gusto estar con él y ver el fruto del esfuerzo de él y de ADP de entregar a otro profesional a la patria Guatemala.  Mynor se graduó con los más altos honores en Chimaltenango, por eso el tiene una banda hecha con la bandera de Guatemala.  Para llegar a la meta  el tuvo que trabajar los fines de semanas y días festivos en una carpintería para mantenerse a el mismo y a mamá.  Fue un duro trabajo que él realizó, pero nunca hubiera sido posible sin la ayuda que muchas amables y bondadosas personas que aportan y apuestan  a  ADP.

Translation: Mynor Yovani is one student, for questions of destiny; he does not have a father. This year he graduated from high school.  A couple of days before the event, in a timid manner, Mynor asked Anacleto to stand in as his father for the graduation ceremony.  Anacleto accepted this honor and accompanied Mynor on this special day.  It made him very proud to be with Mynor on this special day and experience the fruit of his hard work as director of Amigos de Patzun.  He was happy to present another professional to Guatemala.  Mynor graduated in Chimaltenango with the highest honors (that is why he has a blue band across his chest).  To achieve this goal Mynor had to work hard during weekends and vacations as a carpenter to help maintain a life for himself and his mother.  Mynor worked very hard, but it would not have been possible without the friendships and support from the donors of Amigos de Patzún.

At the pools in Patzicia with Laura and her host family, teaching them how to swim. The water was FREEZING cold! Reyna's food was delicious.

Christina, the sexpert, came to help me out with a sex education presentation.

I ran the half marathon in Xela. My life goal is to complete a half in under two hours. I timed myself at 1.58:26. However, my official time was 2.01:22. I was super bummed when my neighbor informed me of this, two days after the race. Either way, it was a very fun, enjoyable half!! Now I'm resting from training.