This morning we woke up on the shores of the magnificent Lake Atitlan. After invigorating conversation with Reading Village staff, we were all eager to travel up the steep hillsides to Concepcion (“Conce”) – Reading Village’s very first partner community.
There, perched high in the hills of this rural farming community we spent the day meeting the youth leaders and graduates who live in Conce. We were overwhelmed by the beautiful and warm greeting we received from the teens this morning — as if we were long lost family members returning home. They welcomed us into their community with hugs and yellow roses. They shared stories of their families, their community, and their dreams for the future and we returned the favor. After a homemade meal of tortillas, beans, avocado and fresh fruit we walked around town, toured the local library opened by the teens themselves, and began to witness the enthusiasm and pride around Reading Village’s work. Knowing now what we know about the corruption, racism and brokenness of Guatemala and more about the difficult lives these teens lead, we often got emotional as we watched them in the fullness of their selves, the next generation of leaders in Concepcion. The teens shone as they explained how they opened the first library in their community, as they showed us their masterful ability to read a story to children in a fun and engaging way and as they prepared us for our participation in the reading fiesta we’ll hold for 80 children in a couple of days.