From the Field: From Hilarity to Hope [Day 4]

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It’s not every day that 60 Guatemalan kids come out of the fields and step away from their schools to watch ten gringos make complete fools of themselves. I saw it with my own eyes, it happened – both the kids and the comedy.

This morning, our travelers were troopers of the most intrepid variety – donning masks and projecting animal noises to bring smiles to the faces of several dozen eager children. Our teens do it every day, so it was the least we could do to give it a shot. For a few fleeting minutes, in a cold cement gymnasium, the youth reminded us to be youthful and it was fun.

After a stellar performance complete with cardboard guitars – scarcity inspires creativity in these parts – we graciously accepted an invitation into the homes of some scholars where we were welcomed with open arms by parents and grandparents alike. Siblings peeped from behind doorways and squealed like school girls (which some of them were) when ten white adults descended. On plastic stools and cement porches, we watched as they wove and we were awed. We tried our hands at tortillas, only to fail in heaps of humility and hilarity. It was all such a pleasant reprieve from the intensity of the experience, and we are so grateful to the community who gave so generously of themselves in these moments.

From all this silliness we moved to more serious matters. We shared one last lunch with the scholars of Concepcion, and I dare say folks lingered a little longer on their tamales knowing the goodbye that lay ahead. Only when there was nothing left to be eaten, when oranges had been sucked dry and pots returned, a candle was lit and the end began. This was a Learning Journey, after all, and we needed to scratch the surface of all that was being felt.

Over the course of an hour, we joined hands, wiped tears, and shared promises – to return, to never forget, to always remember. In a graceful give and take, past, present, and future scholars exchanged gratitude with the travelers who had come to witness their work. Their words unleashed a flood of emotions and moments frozen forever in time came surging back: the poise of a kindergartner with a book in his hands, the pride of a teacher being taught by a student, the graciousness of a scholar has she whispers goodbye.

In the space created by these new memories, all kinds of reciprocal energy bounced around the circle. The adults thanked the scholars, who in turn thanked the visitors, and everyone collectively thanked the universe for leaving this place – our world – in their hands. Indeed there is hope to be had.

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