Yabadabadoo Day 2 in Guatemala

Our first official day in Guatemala has begun! Despite some jetlag and well-earned fatigue, everyone woke up at 8:00 sharp. Regardless of any visible exhaustion, there was still some visible excitement as breakfast in SEMILLA has been a renowned and highly discussed topic by Professor Keith. Or, as the students here like to call him, ‘Pops’. Consisting of beans, eggs, tortillas, and overall deliciousness, this breakfast would sadly have to wait for another day. This morning, on the other hand, we found a hoard of pancakes and freshly cut fruit prepared by the wonderful cooks at SEMILLA.

After breakfast, we had around an hour of free time before leaving for Casa Horeb, an Anabaptist Mennonite Church, where we would attend a Sunday service. Free time was mostly spent conversing with one another and weaving friendship bracelets on the ends of our water bottles, a newfound activity that has captivated the majority of our students these past few days.

Today’s service was nearly two hours long with a variation of songs, and the occasional participation from our group for scripture readings. With Casa Horeb celebrating its 44th anniversary, the service felt refreshing and filled with aspirations for the future of the congregation. As soon as the service ended, we assembled outside of Casa Horeb for lunch with the congregation. We spoke with one another and members of the church as we ate hotdogs, popcorn, and chuchitos. One of the members of the church with whom some students spoke described her time in grad school within the U.S. She even showed them her seven-year-old daughter’s book that she wrote about her bunnies. The interactions were lively and pretty humorous, especially when reading about how “Las conejas hacian mucho popo.”

Before leaving Casa Horeb, we learned more about EDUVIDA, a government-funded education program that works through various churches in Guatemala. The program works with students who are three or more years off track from their original schooling. Students with EDUVIDA take two years for what would be considered elementary school, two years for middle school, as well as two years for high school. The Guatemalan government encourages churches to share their spaces and helps fund the often-church-based programs, although the teaching must be secular.

Unexpectedly during the presentation on EDUVIDA, Keith’s plastic chair suddenly burst apart, with all four legs breaking off and Keith landing on the floor, causing a stir among the students. Luckily all was well and Keith’s chair was quickly replaced before you could say, “Chief Keith!”

After saying our goodbyes to Casa Horeb and getting a group photo with everyone, we walked to Miraflores, a mall not too far from the church. While there, students were able to exchange currency or withdraw money from ATMs. In the past, exchanging money has taken up a substantial amount of time from students’ day, however, we were able to briskly exchange money and move on to our next activity, the Miraflores Museum. The Miraflores Museum contained a host of cultural artifacts – from Mayan statues and clay pottery to obsidian arrowheads – that the students were able to view along with information provided by our tour guide. The tour ended all too soon, however, we had a more hands-on opportunity awaiting us. An interactive workshop was prepared in which we were given lumps of clay to mold into whatever our imaginations could conjure. Some were inspired by the Mayan artifacts that we observed within the museum, and others simply allowed their imagination to take over.

Overall the first full day offered a much broader perspective into what the next two weeks will provide, and that’s hopeful for all of us.


-Alexander Koscher


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