¡Bienvenidos a Guatemala! (A new chapter begins)

This year's class of LHI scholarship students with their parents at the start of term meeting

This year’s class of LHI scholarship students with their parents at the start of term meeting

In the past week my home, my work, my life have all dramatically changed and naturally I would like to say some grand comments about what this all means for me. But in truth, it is far from a new experience and it has all felt rather natural to me now.

I landed in Guatemala City on Sunday morning, took a very convenient shuttle to Antigua and met up with Laura, a staff member of Limitless Horizons Ixil (aka LHI, the organization I’ll be working with) as well as the other new hire Danielle. As anyone who has traveled to or even googled Guatemala can tell you, it is a highly photogenic country, and Antigua is perhaps the most fitting visual definition of “picturesque” I’ve yet seen in Central America. We left the next day in a private car of a friend and made a steady climb up the Pan American Highway (as the Pacific Coast Highway is known south of the US). Five hours later we pulled into the small city of Nebaj, where I’ll be living for the next 13 months.

Guatemala is my kind of place, from what I can tell so far. The landscape, the food, the people, the cultural aesthetic, all very fitting. There’s nothing like a dairy-absent, corn-based cuisine to please a lactose and gluten-free eater. There’s nothing like being considered “average” verging on tall for a woman when you’re 5’1. And anyone who has seen my room or closet will know that I am quite content in a land of intricately woven, multi-colored textiles and indigenous geometric patterns. The mountains around our town are gorgeous and known for some of the best hiking in the country (and perfect for scenic trail runs). Needless to say, I think I will be quite happy living here 🙂

In terms of working here, that too has panned out far more ideally than I had imagined. My role within LHI as “Operations Associate” is, to make a long story short, a pretty wonderful intersection of the skills and passions I can contribute as a foreigner with the needs and theory of change of a locally run non-profit. It is a very behind-the-scenes role, one which serves as the necessary link between the research and funding opportunities of the English-speaking world and the operational complexities of an educational access provider to a small, indigenous community. As always, I have a lot to learn, and yet I have also never felt so prepared to give.

 

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