By Anderson Shamar Melendez, Buena Onda Volunteer
The day started at 05:45 so we can shower and get ready to go to breakfast at Violetta’s. For breakfast, we had cereal with banana slices as toppings. After that, we made our way to the chicken bus for Brillo de Sol, which is located in San Gaspar.
We started off the day by helping the faculty serve breakfast to the students. We served them beans and arroz con leche (rice with milk). After that, we started to remove items from the shed into the backyard so we can paint the inside. The shed is used as a calm space for the kids who need to relax and calm down when they get frustrated. We painted the inside green and the door purple to make the shed look more vibrant instead of leaving it to look old and faded. When we were finished we went inside the school to the paint seaweed that a local volunteer outlined in the staircase. The seaweed was underneath a nice painting of whales swimming in the ocean. By the time we were finished, it was time to head back to Antigua for lunch.
Lunch today consisted of pasta, chicken patty, avocado, and tortillas, all the healthy food that will fuel me for the rest of the day. After lunch, we had about an hour left until we had to go to our Spanish class across the street. My tutor and I went over irregular verbs in the preterite form such as pedir, creer, oyer, and other verbs. One thing I like about this school is that the tutors include games that help you retain the vocabulary. Memorization games with cards, using flashcards with verbs and asking my tutor questions, hangman, and other games that are new to me help me learn more! Another aspect that I like about the school is that the tutors rarely speak to you in English. In my case, my tutor knows just enough English to help her students when they’re stuck on something they don’t understand. If she doesn’t know how to translate the word she’ll just use google to help with the language barrier, but because of this, it forces me to learn Spanish and understand the lesson throughout the three-hour session. Today the last hour was the best because David, James, Ainsley, and I got together without our tutors to play a competitive game of Spanish go fish. Luck wasn’t on my side because somehow James kept getting the cards he needed from the deck exactly when he needed them. Even after we changed the game to the memorization he still won! In the end, we all had fun and went back to the Hostel to wait for Professor Lennon to pick us up for a meeting.
When we arrived at Casa de Lennon we ate fruits that he prepared for us in the kitchen which was cantaloupe, pineapples, watermelon, and blackberries along with a roll of bread. Once we finished our food, all the groups talked about what to expect for our overnight hike at Volcano Acatenango. The three groups talked about what they did this week, what they need to know about the organization, and the organization’s goals for the next group if necessary. The reason why we did this is so that the next group going to that location understands their responsibilities and gives them a chance to ask any questions that may concern them. When all the groups finished, Professor Lennon drove us to the market so we can get snacks, drinks, and any else people needed before the hike. We stopped by McDonald’s for a quick dinner then headed to the Hostel so we can pack and rest for tomorrow’s hike.
This past week consisted of mostly labor work like painting, pulling out weeds and dead tree stumps, planting new plants in the little garden in the front of the school, and installing a wire mesh on the second floor. Even though they seem like small tasks it can make a difference for this small school and its students. Our work gave the teachers time to prepare their classes and curriculum for the students and helped them save money when it came to simple jobs like this. I look forward to continuing this experiential learning trip and encourage cadets to come to Guatemala and do the same.