This past January, I had the opportunity to participate in the opening ceremonies in two of our five partner communities. I was in awe of all of the symbolism wrapped into this special Ceremony of Light. From the traditional cloth beneath the flowers and candles that represents the Mayan culture and diversity; to the flowers that symbolize the blossoming love of literacy in the communities; to the candles that stand for nature, unity and growth shining brightly in the communities – there was meaning behind every aspect. It was an honor to be invited to light a candle and make my own promise to the group.
Like most of the youth leaders who made their commitments before me, my promise to the group started with words of appreciation to the teens surrounding me. I was overcome with emotion when I started to speak because I felt so much gratitude for the inspiration that they’re putting out into the world. I felt so lucky to be a part of this work and this story of neighbors helping neighbors (both locally and globally) in so many different ways. Reading Village partners around the globe are helping the youth leaders attend and succeed in high school while the teens themselves are helping the younger students grow their Spanish language skills, helping them to succeed in school, too. And, on top of all of that, the teens are developing their leadership skills so that they can, ultimately, help their communities move out of poverty.
I told the group how deeply grateful I am to be a part of the Reading Village family with them and to have this opportunity to do the work of my heart. To have the opportunity to connect people in one part of the world with people in another part of the world, and all the while know that as a collective group we are all affecting positive change in current and future generations … it’s a dream come true.
When it came time to make my commitment to the group, I promised the youth leaders that I would do everything I could to connect them to all of the people around the world who have partnered with Reading Village. I promised to tell their stories and share their hopes and dreams. From monthly blogs, to Learning Journeys, to one on one conversations with our myriad supporters it is a privilege to serve as the Development Manager for Reading Village and I look forward to connecting each of you – our readers – to the dedicated youth whom you support in Guatemala.
By: Marcella Varley, Development Manager for Reading Village