Letters from Learning Journey Travelers: Melissa

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This month we asked our Learning Journey travelers to share what it is they are grateful for. They have traveled with us to Guatemala, witnessed the impact of our work first hand, and have an intimate appreciation for the power of education, leadership, and literacy to interrupt generational poverty in rural, indigenous communities. Here’s what Melissa, a Reading Village board member and 2016 traveler, had to say:

Dear Reading Village,

Marisol was the youth leader I was “assigned” while on the 2016 Learning Journey and because I believe there are no accidents in life, this was no accident either. Marisol’s English is nominal at best and yet, we communicated wonderfully. She consistently demonstrated her desire to know more about my life, the world at large and most significantly, the children with whom she is connected. The smile and joy watching her read and lead reading activities with the children was joyful to experience.

Another of the sweetest moments was when Marisol observed a woman running a community center that doubles for a library and remarked she could see her mom having that type of job. That came on the heels of her taking a lot of photos of the painted murals, bookshelves and décor in the community center so she’d remember how to set up the library at school. She and another youth leader were chatting away about their plans and I could see in that moment what visionaries they will become.

Thanks to the Learning Journey you organized, Marisol is just one example of the teens I got to see not just surviving, but thriving. Finding a purpose and feeling tall in this world that they can and do help others, not just be the recipients of help and support—was also stunning to see. I am filled with an enormous amount of gratitude to have witnessed elders being proud, small children using their imaginations and teens, stretching to be the leaders we know they can and will be for Guatemala’s future.

Thank you for this opportunity to travel together.


Melissa Vuernick, Reading Village Board Member

2016 Learning Journey Traveler

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