Wednesdays mean another day of Integrative Seminars. However today was special because instead of doing the same old PBL Groups (or Problem Based Learning), we all had a chance for our groups to present about what we’ve been doing during our time here. After all, it’s our last chance to all meet at Hotel Candelaria and what a better way to end it.
Ok, so maybe we started off with an hour long session of quiet time to fill out our program evals. It was interesting because everyone brought their laptops and went to little corners of the hotel to write about all their deep thoughts on how they would change things for next year. Hindsight is 20/20, but I didn’t feel like I had much to offer in the way of criticism. We’re here to learn… everyone’s here to learn… you’re bound to mess a few things up in a 6 week period of learning right? Who are we to tell people that we could do it better?! I guess a few people wanted to change things so we took a long time filling out these long evals.
The presentations were interesting. Pediatrics talked about working in the hospital with the kids and then visiting their homes. Of course many of the girls fell in love with their patients. How could you not? Guatemalan kids are so cute! Then we Gero people talked about our experience at Casa Maria. The Disabilities Studies team talked about advocating for people and the rights that their supposed to have but no one does. (Welcome to Guatemala, the land of many laws that no one really follows because there’s no money to enforce them). The guys from the Medical Anthropology surprisingly did not talk about getting robbed at gunpoint at one of the largest slums in Latin America, but they did say a lot about clean water and the lack of it in Guatemala.
Did I miss anything? Honestly, I spent a lot of time just taking pictures and feeling the hope that we all had in the room. It’s like we each got more out of talking about what we did than anyone else got out of hearing it. When you’re in the moment and doing the everyday tasks, you forget that you’re really accomplishing something pretty huge. I think when we had a chance to put it into words, we understood that we weren’t just enjoying the beauty of Guatemala, we were actually making a pretty big impact. I wish people did their presentations before they filled out those silly evaluation forms because I think many of the negative statements that were written (there were a couple) maybe wouldn’t have been there because people realized that they got more out of the experience than they’d hoped to.
So after lunch, Devva, Lisa and I headed to the markets to shop for some last minute gifts. Did I mention how much I love hanging out with Devva? We watched Lisa haggle and get amazing deals on coffee, bookmarks, and rum. Devva pointed out where the products were made, most of which were from India. We gossiped a little and then walked her back to her house in the rain.
We were supposed to have a Despedida (Farewell Party) at our host family’s house tonight for me, Armando, Jackie, and Sharon… my current roommates from the group. I attended it for the first hour and Don Mario, the owner of Tecun Uman, our Spanish school, came over for the BBQ. At 8pm though, I asked Armando to walk me around the corner to Erika’s house so we could walk to visit Jorge and Marie (our first host family). Are you following all this? Well, since Armando was already with us, Erika and I invited him to come along since it was dark out and he has a sense of adventure. We took a TukTuk to Jorge and Marie’s house and they were thrilled to see us.
Sitting at their kitchen table was just like old times. Marie served us Atol (a drink made from Plantains) and little empanadas cut in the shapes of leaves. They were so cute and Armando finally understood why we needed to see these people so bad. Although we only spent our first week in their home, Erika and I felt like we never left. They were so warm, welcoming, and just good people. It was nice for someone else from our group to see that too. We talk about them so much and it’s not because we were spoiled by them… they’re just a rare breed. Genuine. Warm. Amazing People.