STVM Students, Parents & Teachers Travel to Antigua, Guatemala to Serve Rural Community of Escuintla
Jun 06, 2019
STVM students, parents and teachers traveled to Antigua, Guatemala for a week in order to serve in the rural community of Escuintla. While there, the students assisted in the construction of the neighborhood school, building an additional classroom for the high school students. In addition to construction work, the students regularly interacted with the elementary and high school students inside and outside of the classroom. Sightseeing and a bit of fun were a part of each day as well! STVM is partnered with International Samaritan, an NGO that has served “dump communities” in Central America for over 20 years.
Read the daily journal entries from STVM alum and current teacher Ms. Colleen Demboski to learn more about their experience.
Daily Journal from Ms. Colleen Demboski
We finished up the first full day today! After breakfast, we headed to Escuintla, the rural town that we are serving in, to meet the community and begin work on the classroom that we are building. The town is very poor and rural, located near a dump that most people - adults and children - work at for $3 a day. We had a chance to tour the dump, interact with the school children (and stray dogs), and start the groundwork for the classroom building. The pictures below capture the dump, parts of the town and the school itself.
Today we began working in the classrooms. We mixed cement before plastering the walls on the inside and outside of the room. The students worked hard in the hot sun! We also had the chance to stop at a supermarket and have a little competition: given 75 quetzales, what would you buy for an impoverished family to satisfy their week’s need for groceries? The pictures attached show the students collaborating. We also had a chance to drop the food that we bought to two impoverished families in the community that we are serving.
We are just finishing up our fourth day of work, and we are almost finished cementing the inside of both classrooms. The participants have been able to not only work on the classrooms but also play and have fun with the students! Attached are some photos from their soccer and tic-tac-toe games today. Our students have also become attached to the stray dogs that live near the school...to the point that they convinced our guide to take one of the puppies to the vet today. They’d like to bring them all home with us! This trip is the perfect mix of service to the community, cultural immersion and growth, personal interaction and relationship-building, and fun sightseeing and touristy activities.
Though we were almost done cementing the classrooms, we had to take a bit of a break due to a leak in the ceiling. The students were able to busy themselves by visiting the classrooms of the elementary school children, reviewing math facts, tutoring in English and sharing stories in broken Spanish and English.
Today was our last day of work at the school, and we finished the final classroom wall in record time. Our cementing skills have become almost professional! After finishing the wall and spending more time with the kids, our group decided to paint a mural on the outside wall so that the school would have something to remember us by. We painted a tree composed of our handprints and signed our names. The high school students then performed some traditional Guatemalan dances for us and gifted us with some handmade gifts that they had spent the week making for us. We ended the day with a visit to the ocean! There, we walked the beach, swam in a local pool and ate authentic Guatemalan dishes.
Our final day was full of excursions and sightseeing. First, we visited an overlook of the city followed by a stop at the coffee plantation, Finca Filadelfia, for some coffee and goodies. We then stopped by the largest market for some shopping and then had a delicious lunch at a local organic farm. We rounded out the day with a visit to the Jade and Chocolate Museums before ending with Mass at the local cathedral. This trip has been the perfect mix of service to the community, cultural immersion and growth, personal interaction and relationship-building, and fun sightseeing and touristy activities!