We all have those moments in our lives that we remember because of the lasting impact they have. There are the obvious ones such as weddings, the birth of children, the Bengals making the Super Bowl (WHO DEY), etc. Then there are the ones that might not be life-altering, but open your eyes and change your perspective on life.

One of those for me was my first trip to Guatemala in 2022, on a Snapshot Tour with Cooperative for Education.

I had never been to Guatemala before. And, to be totally honest, I had never even thought about Guatemala before being invited on the trip by a colleague. I travel a lot for work, so I was hesitant to add yet another trip to the calendar that took me away from my wife and three young daughters, but nonetheless, I went.

And I could not be more thankful I did. What I experienced was totally unexpected.

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CoEd Summer Tour Group 2022.

The biggest impact this trip had on my life was meeting the unbelievably wonderful people of Guatemala. I have had the privilege of visiting 13 different countries around the world, and I can honestly say that the people of Guatemala are the kindest I have ever met. 

They genuinely cared about those of us that were visiting, and I have never met people who were so incredibly hospitable. Even those who had very little went out of their way to care for us or provide meals/welcoming gifts. I have never experienced that in my life.

While there, we had the opportunity to do a home visit with one of the children who is a part of the Rise Youth Development Program. Seeing her commitment as well as her parents being so bought in on her education and the sacrifices, they are making just to give her that opportunity was inspiring, to say the least. That visit was something I will keep with me for the rest of my life.

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Learning to make tayuyos when visiting the home of a Rise student. Oct 2022.

Secondly, seeing the work of CoEd firsthand was shocking—in the best way possible. 

Going on this trip, I had very limited knowledge of CoEd and their work. But after this trip, I could not have been more impressed. The entire team was so insightful and caring, but it was the work of the Guatemala-based CoEd staff that really caught my attention. Having the opportunity to see them working hands-on with local teachers and students was so impressive. Their knowledge, patience, and passion was evident everywhere we visited. And the respect that the kids gave them in return was so incredibly encouraging to see.

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Local Facilitator, Any, alongside a student in the Rise Program. July 2022.

I wasn’t expecting to be this impacted by CoEd and the people of Guatemala, but now I couldn’t be more of an advocate of those two.

I left that trip absolutely in love with Guatemala— so much so that I went back a few months later and am bringing 20 people back with me alongside CoEd later this year. I also now sponsor a young man who is a part of CoEd’s Rise program.

If you are reading this and haven’t been on a CoEd Guatemala tour yet, sign up for one right now. This is the experience you don’t realize you need, and your life will be better because of it.

Grant reconnecting with the Rise student he and his family sponsor. Oct 2022.