"Our service project entailed new perceptions of Guatemalan culture and the purpose of the trip. At the school we separated into three different groups to tackle the different aspects of the service."
-GLA Student Alumnus
GLA student volunteers help to paint faded lines on the playground court
Teen volunteers with GLA's Guatemala - Children of the Maya™ program are fortunate to get the best of both worlds out of their community service project. Not only do they have the chance to play with and truly engage the children of the local school, they also contribute to its restoration through cleanup, construction, and painting. The condition of any school is paramount to the comfort and success of the students who attend it, which always gives new volunteers perspective as they often didn't experience these kind of conditions back in their high schools in the United States.
The school our volunteers work at is special in another way - it is a local Maya school and this means the facility is a place where culture is preserved as well as lessons are taught. Even without modern conveniences like computers, the children at the school see its value. Unlike in her high school back home, one volunteer even remarked, "going without technology— it allowed us to simply live in the moment and relish the emotional connections we established – connections that transcended language barriers, age and nationalities."
Recess time in the schoolyard!
"Today we all went to service after a hearty breakfast. We were separated into two groups- one cementing walls and one painting them. It was amazing to see the children’s faces when they discovered we were there to help them."
-Ariel, GLA Student Alumnus
GLA teens volunteer with kids at the school
"Today was the last day we saw the kids. They held a ceremony to express their gratitude. They performed folk dances and one student sang us a song in English. At the end of the ceremony we were presented with dolls and certificates. It was bittersweet due to the fact we said goodbye to the children, but we know there are many more marvelous memories to come."
-GLA Student Alumnus
One of GLA's teen volunteers lifts up one of the local children on the playground.
Even though these high school volunteers traveled all the way to Guatemala to help restore a school for these kids, by the end of the program, most were reflecting on their impact in a different way. It wasn't only the physical service that mattered. Instead, it was what they left of themselves with these children of the Maya.