Guatemala Summer Service Reflections: Being Open to the Unexpected

Posted by Kristina Harrold


The group of seven students and three leaders of the Guatemala summer service trip returned on Monday, after spending 14 days learning, working, and exploring in the southwestern part of the recently volcano-rocked country, staying with host families and completing service projects at two different sites. 

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On the Guatemala trip, as with all of Proctor's off-campus programs, students felt the impact of approaching new experiences with an open mind and witnessed the way that observation without quick judgement leaves room to embrace the unfamiliar and unexpected. By hearing locals’ stories, navigating group dynamics, painting and building trenches, and communicating in Spanish, they were able to challenge their emotional, social, physical and intellectual boundaries.

"Because of all the itinerary changes, I don’t think I came prepared, physically or mentally. No laundry for two weeks, cold showers, huge bugs falling off the roof, and the intense physical activities… these are the things that challenged me every day, but also are the things that taught me the most. I understand the true meaning of a ‘service trip’ now - not a vacation with friends and family on a nice beach, but to serve and observe other cultures and people." - Carol '20

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The first portion of the trip brought the group to San Martin, where they painted the exterior of a primary school and shared play time and a hand-washing lesson with local children. The second service site was at the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP), where students collected and planted seeds, and learned about the history and use of permaculture, a sustainability focused agricultural and environmental practice. 

"I really enjoyed this trip. I feel like we made a difference to people. At the school, it looked like a whole new place and the kids and teachers were so happy to see us. At IMAP, we learned some amazing things about Mayan culture and permaculture. I feel like I have enough knowledge to make a change in my own community." - Bee '20

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Proctor’s summer service trips provide an opportunity for our students, faculty, and staff to broaden their cultural awareness and understanding through hands-on educational and community projects. This summer nine students, led by Jon Beard and Ilyena Kozain, will be traveling to China from July 1-31 for a month long immersion program. Another group of eleven students led by Patti Pond and Peter Logan are headed to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota from July 11-21 to study at the Sinte Gleska University and work on the Tree of Life farm. Read about last year's service trip to Rosebud HERE.

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“Guatemala is such a strong and unique place. The people we met along the way will always hold a place in my heart. They made us observe instead of analyze, which stuck with me because all my life I analyzed before observing where I was in the world. It made me appreciate the beautiful country I was in. This trip has made me appreciate what I have and what is important in the world and what is not." - Emmie '19
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"The trip and the journey have been incredible, but without the people, it would not have been the same. We have communicated and bonded with each other and with strangers. I have learned so much and heard every person’s stories. Communication is the only way we as a society can accomplish things and change our ideas and opinions. Without communication, this trip would not have had such a profound impact on the way I think and live." - Mackenzie '20

When they return to campus in the fall, students from the Guatemala trip and other summer service projects will be able to share their observations and new perspectives with the entire campus community. We look forward to hearing more about their experiences and growing together as a result of their collective global experiences. 


Click here for more reflections and photos from Guatemala 2018!

Read more about Proctor's Summer Service Trips here!


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