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An Adventure on the Horizon

March 9th, 2009 at 09:00 am

Well, it's finalized... when the semester ends in May, dh will take 16 graduate students to teach in Guatemala for about a month. He has done this for the last five years, and now that I'm retired, I'll be going as a volunteer instructor. This will be a special trip because it's dh's last one in this capacity. He will retire in June and pass the baton to another faculty member. I'll help supervise student teachers in exchange for the experience working and living in a foreign country, even though it's just for a short while. Although I won't be paid a salary, my airfare and housing will be covered through the project.

Our university students will have the opportunity of teaching in diverse bilingual schools and Guatemalan students will benefit from lessons taught by native speakers of English. The program continues to be very popular with our university students, despite the economic chaos that's deeply hurt higher education. Students must pay their tuition, airfare, housing, transportation, and meals. So, dh strives to make the trip as affordable as possible by negotiating group rates with the posada (hotel) and the transport company we contract with.

For example, housing will be $20 per night per person for a double occupancy room with a bath. The posada is clean, secure, but very Spartan. The rooms do not have phones or TV, but happily, we will have wireless Internet. The transportation fee of $250 per person includes airport transfers to and from Guatemala City to Antigua, two weekend sightseeing trips (to Lake Atitlan and Copan), and daily transportation to and from the schools. And, for less then $2, one can take a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto_rickshaw to anywhere in Antigua.

Most of us will prepare at least some meals in one of the posada's two kitchens so this will save money. A great variety of fresh produce is available at the outdoor market and there is a supermarket for other items. However, if I don't feel like cooking after a long workday, dh knows several good, inexpensive restaurants that serve typical dishes for under $5. So that might be the plan for some of our dinners.

While I hope this will be a memorable and exciting experience, dh has been reminding me it is NOT a vacation. We will be working daily from 8:00 to 4:00 and then hold some evening meetings with our university students. Yet, I look forward to the adventure although I may need a vacation when it is over!

This is a street scene in Antigua, the former capital of Guatemala. In 1979 Antigua was placed on the http://whc.unesco.org/en/list

5 Responses to “An Adventure on the Horizon”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Sounds wonderful. I'm sure you both will have a great time.

  2. monkeymama Says:

    I have to second your husband on the "it's not a vacation." I had a relative who lived there many years doing missionary work and a good friend who went on a mission there last year. It was a very humbling experience for both of them (who do a LOT of work with the poor throughout the world - I think it's just the most dangerous and impoverished place they had been to, which says a lot).

    It sounds like it will definitely be an adventure.

  3. lartiga Says:

    monkeymama - Yes, Guatemala can be dangerous so we are always vigilant and take many precautions. For example, the transport company we use will pick up at the airport, drive us on all excursions, and to and from work daily. Dh has been working with the owner since the inception of the program, so we trust him. There is a greater danger to those driving private autos on the highways.

    As far as the poverty, Guatemala is very poor, but I have been to places that are far worse, so that part doesn't bother me. In my past visits, Antigua has seemed safer, cleaner, and less impoverished than Guatemala City. But even so, it will be a profound experience for most of our students who have only the American school system as their point of reference.

  4. My English Castle Says:

    This is fabulous and a wonderful adventure. Experiences like this one make us all richer in so many ways. We all look forward to hearing about it when you return!

  5. Apprentice Fun-Frugalist Says:

    Wow... what an opportunity !!

    I hope you come home with many great memories ! :-)

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