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Day 5





Language by nature is meant to be pretty extensive and descriptive, but at some point (and pretty quickly at that) words are incapable of describing the sheer magnitude of our experiences. I, for one, have found myself at a loss for words countless times throughout this week and today was no exception. Here is my (somewhat late) attempt at describing the truly indescribable.

We began the morning on a dock in Santiago Atitlan where we boarded a small boat to take us back across the lake to Panajachel. I was one of the first people to board, so I took a seat in the middle of the back row and watched as the others piled in around me. In no time, we were off and bouncing across the choppy waters. Though we had taken this same boat ride just the day before, I experienced this journey in a completely different way. Being somewhat isolated from the center of the group, my position in the boat gave me an opportunity to observe all of the interactions occurring around me; Kate and KP laughing together about anything and everything, Catherine staring in awe of the beauty around her, each and every person enjoying the time that we had together in this special place. As I observed, I couldn’t help but smile. In this seemingly ordinary moment (and each ordinary moment in between) I was overwhelmingly struck with a sense of community. Each individual working together to create something bigger and more beautiful than we could ever create by ourselves.


After arriving ashore, we boarded the bus and began our 3 hour journey to Antigua. Once again, I was struck with this amazing feeling of community as our group worked together to pass the time. The seemingly monotonous journey was soon filled with loud off key singing, endless laughter and meaningful conversation. Time flew by and we soon arrived in Antigua for a delicious (and HUGE) lunch of crepes.


Our next stop was an ecofilter factory just outside of the city. This factory works to produce reusable water filters for the people of Guatemala because most do not have reliable access to clean water. As we walked through the facility, we were given an opportunity to observe how these filters were made and were able to ask questions about the process and the people who work there. We learned that a lot of the workers would travel over 2 hours to work at this factory and then live in the faculty grounds Monday through Friday, returning to their families on Friday night for the weekends. I think the dedication that these workers have to both their job and to their families is inspiring and truly makes us realize the immense privilege that we all possess.


We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the city of Antigua. We were able to experience several different aspects of the area including a jade museum, a chocolate shop, several marketplaces, and of course some amazing food. That night, we even were able to see a live volcano erupt from the roof of our hotel.


There were so many times today where I looked around at the amazing people on this amazing trip and felt so thankful for this unique experience. The chance to build community not only with each other, but also with the people of Guatemala is truly priceless.

I am oh so very lucky

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Ukirk at Virginia Tech

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