From Joan Williams: To, an awesome group of adventurers who wear their hearts on their sleeves and are always willing to go the extra mile to help another out. The Catlin-OES group were amazing ambassadors to a community that is often affected by the ignorance and greed of the outside world. To offer so openly and continuously such love and respect and to show such a willingness to embrace a new culture and work endless hours to make life a bit easier and more beautiful for the kids of Chajul was amazing to watch and participate in. In a world where media shows continuous signs of the worst of human kind, seeing this group of wonderful young people at work was very heartwarming. For those of you involved in educating these youth, you are doing an amazing job! Thanks for taking the risk of sending them in to a new world where their many talents could be witnessed!
Spencer: In the weeks preceding this trip, I worried about two things not coming true: Our students not getting the chance to use their language sufficiently and not getting enough time working alongside their Chajulense peers. I hope the photos are speaking as loudly as the reality that both of these doubts have been shattered.
Yoseph: I’d say the best memory for me on this trip would be when I played basketball with this group of kids. We played an indoor full court game and all the while there was a soccer game taking place at the same time on the same court. So not only am I weaving between little kids hoping that my big body doesn’t run one of them over, but I’m also trying to get out of all the running soccer players. It was complete chaos, but it was still really fun. It took street ball to a whole new level. Then after a while our game died down and there was this group of girls playing on the outdoor court. Bridgette, one of the LHI workers, told me that I should teach them how to shoot with the correct form. At first I was pretty hesistant because their form sucked and so did my Spanish. But, I got up and walked over to the girls. It was really difficult and awkward at first because they were shy and just couldn't get the form down. But, after some time and a lot of patience, they finally started to get the hang of it. It was really nice to see them all clap and laugh once they started making their shots. This is one of my best memories on this trip because other than all the equipment and supplies, this was the one thing I could give that was unique to me. Then there’s also me getting electricuted in the shower by the water heater. That’ll always stick with me too.
Rebecca: On Wednesday, our group collaborated with the library and LHI in Chajul to put on a fiesta for all the kids with carnets (library cards). We split our group into four smaller groups and were in charge of putting on different activities that smaller groups of kids rotated through. There was an hora de cuentas (story time), simón dice (simon says), arte, and hopscotch. I was a part of the arte group, specifcally, face painting. The activity was extremely popular and a lot of fun, but I never want to draw a mariposa (butterfly) or a mariquita (ladybug) ever again. Combining both the afternoon and morning sessions of the party, our group probably painted over 80 faces! Normally, any kid of event like this would be fun with kids, but during a lull in the caosis, I was talking with the Cristina, one of the LHI workers when the magnitude of the event really sunk in. Back in the states, these kind of library events and fun times for kids happen ALL THE TIME. But here in Chajul, this was the first time anything like this had ever happened. Kids in Chajul don’t spend much time just “playing.” Face painting, while fun, is extremely impractical, but pretty fun... Anyway, I’m just glad that I got to be a part of such an event, and I hope that because of the success of this first fiesta, there will be more in the future.