Over half term, a group of twelve A-level Spanish students visited Guatemala where we volunteered with an NGO based in Antigua, Niños de Guatemala. We taught English to both primary and secondary school children through activities such as English games and cooking. Although it was challenging at first, we learned incredibly valuable skills and now recognise how hard it is to teach a foreign language.
Señorita Leturia and Señorita Golzarri made sure we weren’t idle during the afternoons; most days we had three hours of one-to-one Spanish lessons with Guatemalan teachers. Not only did we brush up on our grammar, but we were also able to learn about the culture and social and political issues in Guatemala such as immigration to the US and the role of tourism in the economy. In total over the two weeks we had 24 hours of Spanish lessons and all of us have come back with our Spanish greatly improved and an awareness of a culture very different to our own.
We had multiple opportunities to explore the culture of Guatemala: We stayed with host families which gave us a true insight into a different way of life, including all the amazing typical Guatemalan dishes from the tortillas to the tamales. We also made excursions to Mayan museums and visited the San Domingo culture centre where we had a beautiful view of the city of Antigua. We tried our hand at making “muñecas quitapenas”, traditional worry dolls that are believed to help take away worries. They were very difficult to make and we all left in admiration of the women who make them so skilfully.
On the Saturday we took a day trip to Lake Atitlan, where we hopped on boat which toured us around the lake. We were taken to three towns around the Lake, all of which we were given time to to explore. Each town had a different atmosphere and as we walked around it was interesting to see aspects of daily life, from hearing a service at the Iglesia de la Virgen del Rosario in Santiago, to watching women wash their clothes in the lake in San Pedro, to learning about the textiles cooperatives in San Juan.
This two week trip, although all too short, was an unforgettable experience and we were very sad to leave behind the children and our exceptionally kind host families, but we have come back with new interests and so much more confidence speaking Spanish. We would like to say muchas gracias to Señorita Leturia and Señorita Golzarri for organising such an incredible trip!
Rosie & Emily, Year 12