By Grade 12 Students
Our trip to Guatemala allowed us to immerse ourselves in the life and culture of Guatemala over the course of eight days. We partnered with Operation Groundswell to organize the trip. The mission of the organization, as well as the goal of a learning service trip, is to allow students to learn about the grassroots social justice work in Guatemala and contribute to existing projects.
Throughout the trip, we learned about the Guatemalan culture through volunteering with small cooperatives, such as De La Gente and La Voz. Our volunteering focused on coffee production. We experienced firsthand how the Guatemalan campesinos process the coffee from its fruit to the finished product found in Canada and the United States.
We also had the opportunity to work with was the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project. We spent time learning about the organization’s work with defensive reforestation, through which they use trees and plants to prevent a government-led takeover of land for mining purposes (which would destroy the land and displace Guatemalans). Our volunteer work with this organization consisted of planting protected young trees in reused bags that would then be planted in locations earmarked by the government to be given to a mining company, with the goal of preventing the impending land takeover. We also worked on permaculture and aquaculture projects at the Operation Groundswell Hub, helped create a garden inspired by a Mayan calendar, and dug a foundation hole for a sustainable fish farming pond.
We also enjoyed exploring the beautiful cities of Antigua, Xela, and San Juan La Laguna. We had interesting discussions with Mayan Guatemalans who are involved with organizations like Cafe La RED KAT. Part of the trip involved hiking Volcano Santa Maria to a lookout point called la mirador, and seeing Santiaguito, one of the most active volcanos in the world.
We really had a great learning experience and are grateful for all the support and contributions we received from the Linden community.
Included in the fees for this trip was a $1100 contribution to four organizations and projects organized through Operation Groundswell: Chico Mendes, a scholarship fund supporting university education for local Guatemalan students, the alumni fund (development projects started by alumni of Operation Groundswell programs), and other local projects at the Hub.