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Journal 1

January 20

Well, its only been a little over a week here in Guatemala, but we've
already had a lifetime of new experiences. For instance, an erupting
volcano greeted us on our descent towards the airport in Guatemala
City. Also, for many students, each day starts out with a cold
shower. However, if the water isn't working, which is the case on
most days, a cold bucket bath will wake you up in a hurry. Luckily
the temperature here in Guatemala is around 60 degrees in the
morning, not quite as cold as it is in Harrisonburg I would guess.

The next new experience comes with trying to make it to school in the
morning. For this, the public buses are the only way to go. The
buses are packed so full that people usually have to hang out the
door to get a ride. A few lucky students have experienced this
ordeal first-hand. Bus rides can range anywhere from 30 minutes to
an hour and a half depending on the traffic.

School in the morning is always a great time to catch up on the crazy
events at home the night before. A lot of time is spent with host
families and most students seem to be adjusting really well.
Families are quick to make you feel right at home, and in the end,
family interaction isn't much different than it is back in the

We study Spanish from 8:30 to 10:30, then again from 11:00 to 12:30.
Sometimes class can get long, but the teachers are fairly laid back
and I think everyone would agree that it's worth it when we see
improvements in our conversations at home.

The afternoons are filled with speakers. The first week we've
learned a lot about Guatemala's history. It's a fairly sad story of
persecution and war, and we've also learned that the United States
had a hand in the whole mess as well. Unfortunately, in
support of military rule and the status quo.

After school it's back on the buses to our homes where we spend the
evenings playing with our host brothers and sisters, talking with the
family, and of course doing homework. One great part about the trip
so far has been the extra group activities which keep us from getting
in a monotonous routine and letting the days simply slip by. Every
day in Guatemala is certainly lived to the fullest.

- Adam Shank


Photo galleries:
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least recent)

Gallery 7

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Gallery 1