NTU StudentsVolunteering

Ishmael’s Diary: Guatemala 2016

This summer, the volunteering group travelled to Guatemala to do lots of proactive work for the people out there. Ishmael Niheeba Gordon was one of the volunteers on this trip and has given us a sneak peek of his diary whilst he was travelling.
The volcano in Guatemala.
Friday 8th July 2016
On the 8th July, I travelled to Guatemala with my volunteering group via Houston, USA. It was 9 hours to Houston from Heathrow and we nearly missed our transit flight because the queue was extremely long.

When we finally arrived at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, there was a taxi waiting outside for us. After an hour and a half journey, we arrived at the hostel and met the host mother named Maria and her husband Leo.

A group photo on the plane.

We were split into different rooms and all of the boys (there were 7 of us) had to share one room! What I loved about the hostel was that we got to meet travellers of different nationalities. 
The next day, the volunteering coordinator, Ana, met us and gave us a tour of Antigua and loads of essential information about the shops, banks, bus stops etc. 
Monday 11th July 2016

On the first day of school, we had different icebreakers which allowed us to interact with the other volunteers at the school. Every day, we caught the ‘chicken bus’ to school which looks like an American high school bus. The journey was only 2 quetzals which is less than 10p! 

The ‘chicken bus’!

During the first week, I went to a shantytown named ‘La Vista Amosa’ to help rebuild the roof of a family’s home. It was shocking to see the conditions that the family lived in and there was only one bed! 

Friday 15th July 2016

I enjoyed going to the Spanish language school twice a week because you received one-on-one conversational classes which were very helpful. It’s important to know some Spanish in Guatemala otherwise, you’ll struggle. My group were lucky to have two native Spanish speakers who helped organised our trips with the travel agents but also with bartering in the markets. 
During the evenings, we explored the town centre and to celebrate Ry’s birthday, one of our group members, we went to a bar and then a nightclub. It was a fun night, although I’m disappointed that it closed at 1am! 
During the weekends, we would go on trips. The highlight for me was the trip to the volcano because I have never been one top of a volcano before.
Our trip to the volcano.

Monday 19th July 2016

At the school, I was placed with a grade 5 class. The pupils’ ages ranged from 11 to 12. I built a relationship with them quickly and they were really enthusiastic about asking me questions, even silly ones like “Do you have a girlfriend?” 
Their lessons are 40 minutes each and they are taught different subjects to what were are used to in the UK like orthography and calligraphy. They also have a lesson in Kaqchikel which is one of the indigenous languages in Guatemala.

A group photo of the 5th grade class.

Thursday 22nd July 2016
I was very proactive in the pupils’ English lessons, I gave a presentation about Great Britain and a second presentation about sports. I taught the pupils how to play British Bulldog, as well as assisting in the classroom, I also painted a classroom!
If you go to Guatemala, be prepared to eat tortillas every day! At the back of the school lies a beautiful coffee plantation with a museum of coffee, a coffee shop and a museum about Mayan instruments. It’s a lovely place to go to during break times. I bought a lot of coffee, chocolate and merchandises there. 
Friday 23rd July 2016 

On my final day, I gave the children sweets and the volunteering coordinator a British tea caddy. I also gave the host mother a caddy as well. The children made a poster for me which made me very tearful. I am extremely sad to leave the children but I am definitely going to contact them. 
Group hug! It was sad to leave the children.

Volunteering in a Hispanic country has helped with my confidence to speak Spanish which is what I need as I study modern languages. I definitely enjoyed working in schools and I want to become a secondary school teacher (this experience is something worth writing down on my CV). For example, next year I am going to apply for a language assistant position with the British Council. 
On the application form, there is a section to write about any teaching experience. I shall definitely write about my volunteer work amongst other things. 
I would definitely volunteer again, perhaps next time in another country!
A group photo of the international volunteers.
Blog Administrator. Currently ran by co-author Emilia Denis. Emilia has studied Fashion Communication and Promotion at NTU between years 2017 and 2020.

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