March 2012 Bottle School Trip (AGC)

“This experience was meaningful to me because it relates to my culture and what my parents had to go through when they were young and not able to get the best educational experience. Working on this project made me feel proud to be my parents’ daughter. I was not only able to help physically build a school but I also got to interact with the community. I [really] enjoyed talking and connecting with the community and being able to visit their homes and see the way they lived.”

“Being able to share [this experience] with not only family but also teachers from my son’s school [made this trip meaningful]. It made me closer to my wife and myself. Helping strangers has a special feeling for people’s hearts in general. [But] being able to to do it with the two most important people in my life has meaning beyond what I can express in writing. The welcoming and departure ceremonies, playing frisbee with the kids and the community walk, was unique in that we got to see the real, daily lives of the people. [I thought] we were just going to do bottle stuffing and stacking…[in fact] I worked towards building a school.”

“I have always contributed to my community and other communities in need but this trip made me realize that I can take it to another level. My commitment to education has also become stronger. Getting to know the community members [was] such a crucial part of connecting with others.”

“It was such an honor getting to work in the community. The relationships and human connections made were the most meaningful for me. Through the time I spent in Guatemala I reflected a good deal and look forward to returning.”

“As a community development practitioner was meaningful as it provided the opportunity to immerse myself in various models of participatory development. It was a privilege to share it with my colleagues and community. I most enjoyed playing with the children, talking to the women of the community, and going on the community hike. The community integration piece was particularly strong. I will have lasting memories of smiling children and generous hospitality.”

“What a full experience – I appreciated how balanced the trip was. I felt safe and that my health during the trip was taken seriously, which I appreciated. The experience has been so meaningful because it completely reframed my understanding of poverty in a developing country like Guatemala. I felt an authentic connection to the people with which we worked.”