Global Challenge, SEC, Guatemala.
Week 4 – Chiantla, Panajachel, and Antigua
Week four has arrived and I already feel nostalgic about my time here! Thinking about the internship coming to an end really made us all feel sad about leaving Guatemala. Much of the last week consisted of travelling to different places and following up our research for schools.
We headed back to Chiantla, and visited the schools we initially did a theatrical play in, which was centralized around raising awareness about parasites in tap water. As our van drove up to the school, many school children seemed excited and very happy to see us all return! The response we got from the school was very heart-warming as the children recognized us instantly! The fact we were sitting on the back of a pick up truck, on a very bumpy long road made the experience that much more humorous. Moreover, other participants took part in a documentary project for South Korea! The project involved raising awareness about Guatemalan culture and all the different dialects that exist of Mam. This was a very insightful experience for us, as we got to visit three different schools and had the chance to interact with the students. I loved this – mainly because we got to hear first hand what people’s views were of the upcoming elections in Guatemala.
After spending two whole days in Chiantla, we travelled down south to Panajachel. Our three days in Panajachel consisted of preparing for our presentations in Spanish to regional director Miguel. We each stayed in a local hotel and observed the major differences from this part of Guatemala to other areas we had been to. Panajachel was largely touristy yet a beautiful spot all around due to the famous Lake Atitlan. While we were driving down a mild slope, I saw serene views of the lake, which words cannot describe. This truly was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen! We all had free time to explore the area, and so the next day me and other participants embarked on a trip to different islands on the lake. This day was extremely relaxing and magical since we got to experience beautiful views of the sunset, as well as the most tropical smoothies on offer!
Friday has come! And I couldn’t help but feel nervous for the presentation we were doing in Spanish for Miguel. Team Oportunidad, which I was part of, categorized the presentation into sections of: the work we were doing here, what works and what doesn’t and future recommendations for SolCom. Fellow participants, Pahola, Milly, Chris, Lizzy, Xafina, Helen and myself each presented mini sections of the content to Miguel and Soluciones Comunitarias management. This really was an incredible experience for me as I essentially saw our research come into practice. The past three weeks had all been drawn together to present our final ideas and it truly felt amazing. We also touched upon how we could strengthen the role of Microconsignment models in campaigns and also deliver more for the local entrepreneurs themselves.
The next day we headed off to Antigua to spend one last night together. This night was rather emotional as we all got to say our special ‘thank you’ to our team leaders Luke and Ada and let them know how much we appreciated their support. I personally have learnt so much in this internship and it has really changed many of my views of development anddeeply enhanced my understanding. Guatemala felt like home after 4 weeks, despite it being very different from the UK – Guatemala has its own unique warm
character and I can’t wait to visit again. As I was leaving, I remembered my first day flying out from London to Guatemala, and from that period of time to now, I have learnt so much about myself. I have really seen development from a multidimensional perspective and the daily challenges associated with working within an NGO. I am now fully aware of how important it is to have drive, determination and initiative for social entrepreneurship. And most importantly, I have gained a solid understanding of how empowerment has the force to build successful access to livelihoods within a community!
I didn’t depart from Guatemala straight after my internship. I decided to travel for 10 days around Mexico, then back to Guatemala getting my return flight. This was an experience in itself. All I have to say now is: until next time Guatemala, you have taught me so much! I cannot wait to hear the feedback from our presentations and recommendations. I also am so thankful I got to meet many inspiring people (Nelson, Teodolinda, Claudia, Ingrid and many more) and the opportunity to make lifelong friends around the world! I will take the experiences I have learnt in these past four weeks with me forever! Hasta La Vista, and Buenos Noches!
I want to say a special thank-you to the University of Birmingham Careers network, International Relations department, University of Connecticut, U21 and Social Entrepreneur Corps – this wouldn’t have been able to happen without you guys!