18 school visits.
Hundreds of students, parents, and teachers.
Thousands of pictures.
How can one possibly select only FIVE moments from all of the above?! Somehow the “Top 1,000,000 Moments” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, so alas, we tried our darndest to narrow it all down. Check it out!
[Honorary 6th Top Moment: Fleeing the icy tundra that is February in Cincinnati. Sooooo sorry to have missed the snow...]
5. Delivering Brand New Textbooks to New Schools
As staff members, we sometimes forget about the impact that books can have on a school because we are bogged down in the minutiae day in and day out. But when schools literally roll out the red carpet (okay okay, it’s really more of a “green carpet”, a.k.a. pine needles) and throw a massive party to celebrate the arrival of their new books, it makes you appreciate the new world that these students are about to discover.
4. Meeting Incoming Scholarship Students
The students are selected to enter the scholarship program as timid 6th graders, and we get to watch them grow over the next six years into capable young adults ready to conquer the world. But in most of our experiences in Guatemala, we meet the older students, not the shy 6th graders who have yet to start the program. Yes, some of them are a bit bashful, but you can see the enthusiasm and potential bubbling just below the surface. It’s pretty neat to see how excited they are to continue their education and achieve their dreams!
3. Unfettered Enjoyment of Reading
Volunteers on tour got a chance to sit and read with students in the CORP program (cue the adorableness). At El Caman primary school, there were more students than volunteers in our classroom, so as each of the students grabbed a book and a volunteer to read to, there were several students left unmatched. These two sweet boys weren’t the least bit troubled by it and scurried off to a corner of the classroom where they climbed into an overturned desk —previously used as a baby crib in the story they acted out moments before—and settled in to read silently, joyfully, and blissfully unaware of the raucousness caused by their classmates reading aloud.
2. Witnessing the Success of a Community
Olintepeque Middle School entered the Textbook program in 2004, and we celebrated a huge milestone with all 600 students, parents, and teachers this year. Our volunteers were honored to deliver brand textbooks to Olintepeque that the school itself had purchased using the money they saved from the student book fees. Sustainability at its best. But wait! It gets even better! This is the SECOND time they’ve renewed their books! This community is proof that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
1. Seeing New Supporters “Get It”
New travelers come to Guatemala with a vague idea of what they will see in a school–lack of resources, run down buildings, etc. But they leave with a deep understanding about what the tools, training, and scholarships truly mean for these children. The 142,000 students helped by CoEd are no longer faceless kids living in unknown rural villages. These tour participants left Guatemala with an experience that touched them, the memory of a face that smiled up at them, and a new friend who turned all of those vague statistics into concrete, heart wrenching fact. They all had their “aha!” moment, and you just can’t beat that!
Now that you’ve read our top five tour moments, we want to know your favorite memory or experience from any past tour! Whatcha got for us?!