Week 2 in Xela: Rewind

The Week in Rewind 

This past week flew by much faster than those preceding it.  We are now beginning our third week of class, and our fourth week of being in Guatemala.

This week’s talks:

Tuesday: A Civilian’s Perspective of the Armed Conflict… A great talk by my own Spanish teacher.  He shared a few experiences he had during the armed conflict of Guatemala.  Such a well spoken human, he surely had a presence that no other speaker has had thus far.  Many of us, including myself, have said that his talk was the most enjoyable and most insightful so far.  From witnessing death, to having the armed conflict effect his own family, my teacher shared with us a perspective that history often overlooks—the civilian’s experience; the average person who lived through the conflict.

Wednesday: DESGUA at Café R.E.D… An organization started by Guatemalans who’ve chosen to return to Guatemala from the United States and help other migrants who’ve returned as well.  They look to provide contacts and connections for those who have been deported, self-deported, or simply choose to live in Guatemala rather than the United States, so that they can put their skills to use, and be able to independently survive in Guatemala.  A great organization that is tackling a very evident and important issue that effects the entire world.

If you’re interested in Café R.E.D., please stay tuned for another post that I will reserve just for explaining such an awesome place.

This past weekend was also a free weekend for us, so nine of us (including me) headed to Lago de Atitlán (Lake Atitlán), while the other five chose to visit a coffee and macadamia nut fair trade cooperative.  Again, please see a separate post for an overlook of our experience at Lago de Atitlán.

To say that we’re enjoying this experience would surely be an understatement.  It’s been amazing.  It’s been challenging.  It’s been taxing.  We all are enjoying every second of it, though.  Whether it’s having to deal with your host family simply coexisting with you, studying at Café R.E.D., hearing a variety of speakers, eating sweetbread during break time at school, or struggling through a oral presentation for Spanish class, this experience has had the ups and downs that travel is supposed to have.  We are entering our third week of Spanish class, with formal classes ending this Friday, a graduation on Friday evening, and then we head out to the indigenous community of Cantel for a week.  Also, this coming Friday and Saturday is the independence celebration for Guatemala for having achieved independence from Spain in 1821.  We are all intrigued by this celebration, and are ready to experience it as well.  The city has been prepping for a week now—hanging flags in the central park and a concert last week.  According to my professor, the celebration is also taken very seriously by a number of people (he calls them Xelaists), while for others, it’s just another celebration.  One can only imagine what our group is in for come Friday night.  An update will surely be needed.

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