Seven IvyWise Team Members Share Their Favorite Memories Of Their Time In Guatemala With School the World
In March, seven IvyWise team members traveled to Guatemala with School the World as part of the organization’s first corporate service trip, where they built a school for a community outside of Santa Cruz del Quiche.
At IvyWise we believe that educational support is important at any age and that making a positive impact, in your local community and in the world, is essential to building a better future for children everywhere. It is in that spirit that we decided to partner with School the World as part of our IvyWise Gives Back initiative and work with them to bring education to children who need it the most.
In March of 2018, a select group of IvyWise team members, along with team members from Envisage International and Flywire, traveled to Guatemala to help build a new elementary school for kids in need! Our goal was to raise enough funds, in conjunction with the group we are traveling with, to not only help build the school but also provide the resources to get the school started and keep it running long after we are gone. We were joined by team members from
It was a tremendously rewarding experience, and we’d like to share some of our thoughts and memories of this amazing project:
Meghan: I’ll never forget the warm and gracious welcome we received upon driving up to Patzalam Choacaman on our first day. I was feeling tired after the four-hour drive through the winding mountains and bumpy dirt roads, but was instantly energized by the excitement of the children and families who greeted us with songs, handmade posters, balloons, speeches, and even fireworks! For the rest of the week, we were lucky enough to be immersed in the community, welcomed into their homes, and able to really get to know the students we were building for. We were quickly able to see how eager and excited the students were to come to school and learn. As someone who has always been passionate about access to education, putting in the hard work to actually build a school for a community in need was extremely rewarding. Despite language barriers, in the short span of a week, in between paint shifts and mixing concrete, we were able to develop beautiful relationships with the students, families, teachers, and fellow volunteers. Saying goodbye to the students was more difficult that I could have ever imagined, but I feel comforted knowing they’ll have a place to go everyday to learn and continue to inspire each another.
Shurabhi: My favorite part of the entire trip was getting to know the community — especially the children! Though we were there for only five days, the kids were so welcoming, open-hearted and affectionate, that we felt we'd known them forever! It was one of the most humbling, eye-opening and heartwarming weeks of my life. The biggest lesson I learned from the whole experience (apart from the ratio of cement, water and sand to make concrete!) was to be grateful for whatever we have: Though the families struggled to meet even the most basic needs, they were all so happy, thankful, hopeful, and loving, and really believed in the strength and power of family and community!
Grace: I think one of my favorite parts of the trip was the celebration at the end of the week. It was so clear how both, the members of our group and the community, were thrilled and excited. As soon as the Vice Mayor cut the ribbon, all of the children rushed into the playground. I would estimate about 30 children were in line for the slide! They were so eager to share their enthusiasm with us, often grabbing our hands and pulling us into line with them. I will never forget the joy that everyone in our group and the community felt at that moment.
Megan: This trip was an amazing experience, not only because I was able to bond with my IvyWise team members, but also because we made a tangible difference in the community we worked. Visiting Guatemala was a once in a lifetime experience because of the people we met and the community we worked in. Although I volunteer regularly with local organizations, it was an eye-opening experience to immerse myself in an unknown culture to help others and put myself in their shoes.
Carrin: It was truly a life changing experience. Being a person who loves and values the importance of education, the chance to actually have the opportunity to do work with my own two hands to give the gift of education to someone else, someone in need, was incredible. I will never forget my time there!
Kaitlyn: I will never forget the warmth and hospitality of the community – they welcomed us with open arms from the get go and treated us like family during our time together. The students are beautiful people on the inside and out and they will always hold a special place in my heart. That, along with the camaraderie that developed between our IvyWise team and the rest of the group/community, are some of my favorite takeaways from the trip.
Anna: I’m guilty of being a victim of routine – never really stepping out of my comfort zone to experience new things because the familiar is usually so safe. When the opportunity for this trip presented itself I was thrilled to be included, but also a little anxious about how much of an impact we could really make in just a few days. It’s incredibly humbling to look back on this experience and remember the sheer volume of love and commitment everyone put into this project. From the fundraising to the actual build, everyone was here for one thing – to do something special for these amazing kids. I still can’t believe it sometimes when I think back to that first day – where all we had were four walls and no roof or windows – to the last day where there were, not one, but TWO complete classrooms and a playground. It truly is amazing what you can accomplish in just a few days with the determination of a dedicated team. When I’m asked what I enjoyed most about this trip I always come back to the people. The love and hospitality we encountered was beyond what I could have ever imagined – we really did feel like we were home during our short time there.
Below are some additional photos of the completed school!
For more information on School the World, visit our IvyWise Gives Back page. Thanks again to everyone who supported us during this trip, and we look forward to serving other communities in need in the future!