The following post was written by CoEd supporter Meaghan Kindregan after her return from a CoEd Snapshot Tour. If you want to read more post-tour stories, head over to www.beersandbeans.com to hear their account and see some amazing photography.
Throughout my Project Tour with CoEd trip we visited five schools, but the first moments at the first school are what stand out with clarity. The second we pulled up to Ayampuc Cooperative School, the kids were lining the driveway—cheering and clapping and waving. To say they were excited to see the people who made it possible for them to have first-ever textbooks and computers is an understatement! It was a fiesta! And on the very first visit of the very first day I got a lump in my throat. And let me tell you, it wouldn’t be the last.
We got out of the bus and the principal, Aura, welcomed the group in Spanish. As much as I’d like to think that my 2 years of high school Spanish didn’t go to waste, I didn’t understand a THING she was saying! But, I didn’t have to understand. Just watching her speak, I could see the love and feel the gratitude she was expressing toward us. These teachers, kids, and families often have so little—they lack what are considered the very basics. Now that the students had textbooks and computer instruction you would have thought they won the lottery they were so thankful. I am astounded how incredibly thankful they were, despite all the challenges in their lives. It was incredibly heartwarming to hear Aura speak, and at that moment, I was thankful to be wearing sunglasses as a single tear rolled down my cheek.
The next few days were a mix of volunteering at schools and tourism as we saw the hidden gems of Guatemala and learned about local culture and history. With CoEd’s staff as guides we went to peaceful Lake Atitlán, had killer blue corn pancakes with macadamia nut syrup, toured beautiful and historic Antigua, and journeyed to remote villages that rarely, if ever, see gringo visitors.
At one of the schools, it was my job to hand out #2 pencils to a 2nd grade class. Each time I handed a child with beautiful brown eyes a #2 pencil, I experienced their hope for a better future as they stared up at me in anticipation. Each and every child patiently waited their turn for a pencil, and when handed to them, they pulled it close to their chest and genuinely said, “Gracias.” I held back my tears as I was overwhelmed by the truly grateful nature of these very young kids. And all for a #2 pencil. That’s the kicker—these 2nd graders are hardly old enough to understand how their future is being molded by the training and resources provided by CoEd programs, but none of these gifts are insignificant. They are so hungry for education and a chance to succeed in this world—they take nothing for granted.
These kids, these people in Guatemala are inherently kind and grateful. They make me want to do more. Help more. Be more. I am incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity to spend time with the people of Guatemala. I have seen firsthand the impact that CoEd is having on young kids. It is nothing short of amazing.
If you want to travel somewhere great but don’t know where, check out the Snapshot Tour.
I promise you, it’s lump-in-your-throat good.