Posted by Korrin Engel
Last weekend, 14 of us extranjeros (foreigners) headed out of our new home Xela, to spend our Saturday in Alaska. Guatemala, that is. We are students from all over the states have been living in Xela for the past four months studying Spanish and volunteering in local clinics and schools, and wanted some time to play with some kiddos. Somos Hermanos planned out three different stations, for the 60+ kids to rotate through. There was the CLINIC where, the importance of brushing one’s teeth was emphasized with a relay game involving beans, floor brushes….very messy, but lots of sonrisas (smiles). Then there was the SCHOOL, where mosaics were made using scraps of paper, plates, and some creativeness. And in the FIELD, is where we saw trajes (tipical Guatemalan clothing) stuffed in costales (sacks), spoon races, and lots of energy well-spent. Here’s a little run down of a few of the stations….
CLINIC: So as much as we were all thrilled to be spending a beautiful Guatemalan Saturday in the mountains, we may have been a little unprepared for how we were going to communicate this enthusiasm. Holding the attention of any child can be challenging, even with a giant mouth model. Holding their attention while talking in a language they barely understand, proved entertaining. We had prepared large mouth models to demonstrate how to brush your teeth, along with some posters with pictures showing the different steps. So while one volunteer brushed her own teeth, and talked through what she was doing in Spanish, two other volunteers followed along using giant floor brushes, and the models. This was then interpreted into K’che (local Mayan language) by very gracious and AWESOME community leaders. In the end, like all kids, they really just thought we were goofy looking. To drive home the importance of thorough brushing, we created a relay in which teams of 5 or 6 had to race to “brush” the plaque (which were really frijoles (beans)) off of a set of teeth (a white paper plate). This held their attention. Of course. With giant smiles and muchas ganas de (hopes) winning undisclosed prize, four teams raced to have each member successfully clean all the plaque off the teeth. This was by far the funniest part, and brilliantly broke any language barrier that may have existed. I am not sure what this group of energetic youngsters thought of the 4 strangers with the giant teeth and overwhelming amount of beans, or how much they actually learned, but I do know that we walked away with content hearts, proud to have met such welcoming communities, hoping that this was not the last time we would share an afternoon of laughter.