Thursday, April 13, 2006

Last blog for now...Candice

Well there is so much to say about the trip. I'm not really sure how to put it all, actually I dont think there is a great enough word to explain it, so i'm not going to try and leave it in its awesomeness. This trip was amazing,seeing the people,the culture and learning about human rights was fun, exciting, crazy, fascinating,educational,surreal,WOW, etc. I learned so much during this trip.I have learned far more than I expected. By seeing a new place you see a new way of life and in turn,it changes yours, because you realize things you hadnt before. I could not thank the people enough who helped put this trip together and the people who donated their money and time to make this trip happen. Ms Manuel, Carlos, the parents, the donors and the whole delegation:thanks for making the trip, because without your support it would not have been the same.

GOODBYE GUATEMALE, Zoe will miss you...

wow, so, reflecting on this trip i am realizing just how incredible it was. we were able to learn so much about another country, culture and way of life in just a week. i can't believe it's over: all the laughter, good food, dancing and wonderful people we met. but more importantly, i am taking away a better sense of guatemalan people and what life is like in other places and realizing how important it is to get to know these places. this trip has changed my life in more ways than i ever could have asked for, and for this i have so many people to thank...Ms. Manuel, you were awesome it was very clear just how important this was for you as well, and we most certainly couldn't have done it without your help. everyone on the trip-i had a great time with you all and thank you for making this trip so much fun. i hope we can all keep in touch after this. and carlos, whom we would have been extremely lost without, and thank you for also bringing so much joy to us all. and finally, everyone who donated, it was your donations that got us there, so thank you so so so much, and i cant wait to come back...i'll miss you guatemala, until my return, adios! xoxo zoe

Monday, April 10, 2006

The End to Our Long or Short Journey. By Jeremiah Torres

Life in our country may seem hard but it really isn't as bad as we think it is. I witnessed people who have it way harder than Americans and they still seem to be able to smile these people really are inspiring. The people I talk about are the Mayan people of guatemala. Their entire lives they have been persecuted because of their heritage and that's wrong. They have been killed for their political views which shows how a lot of their rights have been taken away. I heard in videos how the goverment of guatemala had tortured the mayan people for helping the guerillas in the civil war and this goes aginst the article of no torture shall be administered on people. This is something that I learned while on the trip. I really enjoyed this trip to guatemala. It's a country where my ancestry from my mother's side of the family resides and it's a real great thing to go back and explore the country your family is from it really got me back into my roots to really understand what it is like to live like a guatemalan. This is a trip I will remember forever because of the memories I will have about the people that went and how it changed us as a group. I had a great time learning how to dance salsa and I really had a great experience with all the people. I'm so grateful that Melanie set this up for us and really followed through on making this a fun and exciting trip. This was something she didn't have to do but she did anyways and I thank her for that. I want to give a shout out to our guide Carlos he was so down to earth and such a cool guy. I will miss his humor and how he laughed a lot. Everyone on the trip stay chilero(cool) in guatemalan form of slang) I'll see you guys when break is over. That's all I got to say so it's good bye for now and i'll see you later. Payce.

My (Collin) last blog

this trip was amazing. it was fun, exciting, boring, tiring, stressful, relaxing, life changing, experiences that you want to have in an adventure that you will never forget. i definitely plan on going back so if anyone would care to join me you're welcome to. Ms. Manuel, thank you for putting this whole trip together and making it educational but fun at the same time. i cant even think of how much work it took to put this all together. thank you, Carlos, for showing us around your home country and accepting us as close friends/family. thank you to all of my family and friends who took the time out of their days to leave me comments. and thank you to all who donated money to help me fundraise for this unforgettable trip.
love, collin

Friday, April 07, 2006

Our Despedida (Melanie)

Here we are, the superstar Human Rights Delegates, on our last night in Guatemala (ANTIGUA)

Practicing salsa in the restaurant while we were waiting for our food. We had to move the tables out of the way.

Dancing to trance, hiphop and salsa in the club...

...while Carlos and Melanie stood guard making sure everyone was safe and having fun.

Thank you to Collin, Patrick, Zach, Cindy, Jeremiah, Zoe, Candice, Nat and Tiye. Ever since I lived in Guatemala, I dreamt of organizing a Human Rights Delegation. You guys are a part of this dream come true. Like I told you in our closing circle at the airport, I hope that our delegation ignited a fire in you to continue exploring human rights issues both in your communities and abroad. May Guatemala be the first of many experiences that raise your awareness of OUR UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS.

It has long been recognized that an essential element in protecting human rights was a widespread knowledge among the population of what their rights are and how they can be defended.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Sixth UN Secretary-General, 1992-1996

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Colonia 15 de octubre

"Returning is part of our fight."



All the boys are napping. All the girls are getting ready for our despedida dinner and for a little dancing at a discoteca. Im ready to hit the town. I´ll post pictures from today later. Everyone is doing well right now but will most likely be grumpy when they find out that our wake up time is 4AM tomorrow.

Today we spent the whole day in La Trinidad, a community of returned refugees. Mayans from the city of Huehuetenango escaped the massacres by fleeing to Mexico on foot. They walked for 2 days through the mountains to the border with only the clothes on their back. They fled in 1982 during the notorious presidency of Rios Montt and returned to Guatemala in 1998. After the 16 years, on the 15th of October (hence the name of their neighborhood), they couldn´t return to Huehuetenango because the civil patrol (indigenous people drafted by the govt to fight against their own people) had already claimed that land. Instead they now live 20 minutes outside of Antigua where we are staying. It is estimated that 1,000,000 people were displaced during Guatemala´s 36 year civil war.

We spent the day talking to the returned families about their experiences, played basketball and soccer, and eating lunch. They prepared not only our lunch, but the entire town prepared a talent show for us. Some of the students said that is was the best thing we did during the delegation.

We´re coming home tomorrow. Friends, fam, JD, Ive missed you! Who´s taking me out to dinner when I get back?!


-- Melanie

TIYE JONES Where are you?

Ms Manuel and Tiye

Tiye if you don't post one real comment before heading home I will not bring any "dinero". Ya got that?

I'd like a comment or two on what your impressions are--not "Hi Mom, its me Tiye bring money"!!!!

Travel safely home tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Collin on Day 5

We Travled to San antonio palopo which is a town on Lago De Atitlan. we visited a school in the community and all the kids were very excited to see us. we came right when they started the recess and we got to take pictures of them and play soccer with them. then we got to talk with the director of the school and i was able to give the pencils and paper to the school. we went to a ceramics co-op and i bought a cup, i hope it doesnt break on the way back. my stomach feels much better. today is tuesday and we went to the town of santiago by boat. we visited a coffee co-op and bought 38 pounds of coffee hahahhahaha we got to ride in the back of a pick up truck all around Santiago. then we visited a memorial site for one of the massacures, which was in town that lost 800 people to hurricane stan last october. the town felt of sadness and depression because the town was origanilly 1200 people. its still beautiful and hot. ill be home in two days i love yall back home and i hope the rain has stopped love collin

COFFEE coffee is not for me(candice)


Hey yall. I cant believe this trip is almost over, no worry i am determined to come back. Well today was exciting a and educational all at the same time. yes!!! the boat ride from pana to the coffee plantation and the panaja was surreal. The mountians are amazing. Then when we arived at the beach we packed into the back of a truck and that was fun it reminded me of a rollercoaster. We aarrived at the coffee plantation. I had never seen the process of making coffe so that was intresting. Another thing i really liked about the plantation was that the co op protected the myan culture:) well thats my entry for today.

It's Zoe, saying HI

hi people, ita good to hear from you all, sorry i cant respond individually. were having a great time over here, visiting the beautiful Lago Atitlan and took a boat ride across it, it was beautiful. i also took my first ride in the back of a pickup truck, its fun!!!!!!!!!! not getting too sick either, and i got my first sunburn today, but its not too bad. i got u all coffee today, from a FAIR trade co/op in San Lucas Toliman... i hope all is well, i love u and ill see you soon. take care everyone.

Time is almost up, NATALIE!!!!

Hey everyone it´s Natalie, I was thinking about filling you inn on the trip so far but since the computers over here are automated in Spanish it´s hard to understand what´s going on so I ran into a little problem, I wrote a super long blog and I accidently erased it, but everyone know that we are all safe and we will all be home shortly. Good night, Natalie

Crazy Chilero Guatemala from Jeremiah To the people


Well people i plan to get some canelitas de leche for my family i bought so much stuff already though,got my pop´s some guatemalan coffe, real strong stuff. I tried it myself and i bought some other things for my sister, mom and dad. I been here in guatemala for a while people hey i learned to dance salsa and mereunge and i plan to show off some of my moves in the Dance we are trying to go to tommorow. Yesterday and Today we went to co-ops to witness people trying to make a living and devising ways they can get all the money they can. We visted one that was a ceramic co-op that was apprenticed that became it´s own place once the owner left his master artist and created his co-op. We also visited a school and talked to the principle about the problems they faced. The school population has kept growing and is npw out of porportion from people trying to go to school. I witnessed the effects massacres had on people now after the civil wars and it breaks my heart to see a people that has a beautiful area of land be desteoyed by their countrie´s destructive past, hatred being directed towards the Mayans a people that just wants to have normal lives. I´m part mayan and i see my people being oppressed and it hits me heart deep. I wish their lives could be so much eaiser. They are still prosecuted and a lot of their rights are taken from them. The spanish people have taken away their lands and have treated them like garbage. Why can´t they just treat the mayan people like brothers? This thought puzzles my mind.

Human Rights and Lago Atitlan (Melanie)

Today we spent time visiting sites around placid Lago Atitlan. We took a boat from Pana to Santiago Atitlan where we visited a fair trade coffee plantation. We bought 38 (that´s not a typo) bags of organic, fair trade coffee. I think Ive converted Natalie into a fair trade coffee only drinker. Yes! Fair trade means a steady and fair income for the campesinos and access to workers rights through community organizing. Students recognized that fair trade is connected to human rights because fair trade co-ops teach the campesinos that they have the right to protest and demand equality and also provide favorable working conditions.

We then took a pickup truck to visit a memorial to a massacre that occurred in 1990. Thirteen mayans were killed by the military for approaching an army base in search of their kidnapped family members. After this, we visited a town that lost 800 of its 1200 inhabitants due to the mudslides in October. It was very intense. The response of the Guatemalan government was very similar to that of the US govt to Hurricane Katrina. At lunch we wrote in our journals about how human rights played out in Santiago Atitlan.

Last night we watched a movie about maquilas then had a discussion comparing and contrasting human rights issues in Guatemala and in our communities in the US.

Just got back to Antigua tonight where we´ll be for the next two nights before we go home. Holy moly! Our Guatemalan jaunt is almost over. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I don´t know why the pics I post keep coming up double. I´ll fix that later.

Dance Fiends (Fotos courtesy of Melanie)

These pictures should whet your appetite. I also have secret FILM footage of everybody busting out their salsa and merengue moves.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Top 3 List compiled by Melanie

Top 3 things the students know how to do...
1) EAT
2) SHOP (they´ve learned to ask good questions first though about who made the products)
3) DANCE!!! We took a salsa and merengue class this afternoon. I¨ll post pictures tomorrow. Every one of the students was great!

But aside from this, the delegates are also asking great questions about the political realities in Guatemala. Yesterday we were in the van discussing Fidel, Cuba and Puerto Rico´s independence movement. Impressive.

Tomorrow we are off to a coffee co-op to learn about fair trade coffee and visiting a memorial to a town that was massacred in the 1980s.

Thanks so all our fans who have been keeping up with our blog. Off to dinner...

Yup, it's Candice

Hey! I am the most clumsyist person in the world. I dont get it. Anyway today was great. We went to go visit san antonio and visit a school. Well gotta go.


just have to say its been going really good out here in guatemala and i haven´t gotten sick so it´s all good!!! we have ben going to alt of different towns and were estaying in pana and it´s really pretty the lake is so nice.

MaMa It's Natalie

Hey mom, i'm sorry that your purse got took. Hopefully nothing special was taken and if so, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!! Did you have the Hawaii tickets in there or your I.d. or your credit cards or any money, huh question mark. Please try and get all your things together this week before our trip and make sure that no one is using you name or anything like that. Mom I feel so bad, why is it that the sweetest people get the worst things done to them but the worst people get the best, huh. But it's all good, I promise that when I see you I will make you smile and have a great time but promise me that you will not let that stress you out. Just go to the club and dance it off!!! I will be back in 3 days and I am eager to see you, find us cute outfits to take on our trip. I love you mom and I miss you hella much!! As for today I went to eat breakfast and then we went to a ceramic cooperative i bought many things that I will share with you later. I love you mama.
As for you Mimi thank god it's quiet without you, trying to make it seem as if I am louder then you!!! Crazy girl, I will fill you in when I get back to the U.s.a . Love ya

Two more pictures (Melanie)

Pictures of Kachikel girls from the school

I shop too.


Lago Atitlan brought to you by Melanie

Day two of three at Lago Atitlan. It is sunny and warm and lovely. This morning we visited a ceramics co op in San Antonio and a public school where 100% of the students are Mayan-Kachikel. The first year of school is bilingual Spanish-Kachikel since for almost all students, school is the place where they are first exposed to Spanish. The director of the school explained to us how difficult it is to get a proper education. The school´s maximum capacity is 270 but they have 342 students there; but he director doesnt want to turn any students away because he knows that if he doesnt accept them, those students will not go to school at all.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Pictures from today - Sunday (Melanie)

Melanie here. We are having a fab time and learning so much! One thing these kids know how to do better than eating is SHOPPING. Holy moly! Parents, bring your checkbooks to the airport...your kids are in debt to me.

We shop. We learn about women organizing for economic independence. We write in our journals. We talk about the Guatemalan civil war. We sing songs in spanish in the van. We have shopping purchases show and tell. We eat great food. WE DO IT ALL!

I´ve been getting very nostalgic being back here in Guatemala where I had one of the most transformative years of my life. Makes me want to come back and study more about human rights.

Hey, family and friends, I miss you.

Mama Here is News! (Natalie)

I bought you many gifts that you will enjoy very much, also I wanted you to know that I spent all of my money and Ms.Manuel is spotting me untill the airport back home so make sure you come to the airport with cash but don't worry because one of our dollars in the U.S. is seven dollars here in Guatemala. Also do not forget to be at the airport on time because i'm going to be super tired when I arrive and it would be great for my Queen to greet me as I approach the land...well know that I miss you very much and also last nightI was a little home sick but it went away after a journal write and a piece of cheese cake, I love you mucho!!!
Sincerely, Your Princess

As for you Pops I hope your still checking the blogs daily and know that I miss you very much. Today I went to the market in Chichicastenango and I got you something that you will love!!! Well I hope all is well and that you miss me as much as I miss you. I love you mucho!!

As for all my siblings and brothers girlfriends I just want to say hi and that I miss you all, today was great!!! I have been to a jewerly co op and a glass co op, I cannot wait to go to the coffe co op because the Guatemalan coffe is the bomb!!! Any who keep viewing my blogs and let me know what's up... Love ya mucho and thanks for stopping by!!!




The Third Day (Collin)

we travled to two different co-op today in the High lands. both were jewerly and weaving co-ops. the women and children of the co-ops were very greatful and kind and humble about us being there. the jewerly was very beautiful. i feel sick in the stomach but i hope that it will go away by tomorrow. we stopped by a house that ms. manuel had built three years ago and the family who she built it for ran out to she her. it was inspiration because it showed how much of an impact she made on these peoples lives in one week. also the kids here dont all go to school and it is problem because many families dont have enough money to send their kids to school, so many people are stuck in this vicous cycle that keeps the indigenous pepole uneducated. but not all things here in guatemala are negative i just dont feel good hahaha. the culture is amazing and enjoy being emersed in a completely different society. adios and love yall.



Well, i dont really know what to write about this time. There are so many things i could talk about. The group is becoming really close and our experience in guatemala is fascinating. My word of the day is bananos, well actually i had 2 words yesterday so i switched bananos to today. Today was really cool we went to the market. It was really crowded, and fun.Although, there were some sellers that would not lay off. They were determined to sell something. It was an uncomfortable situation, but if i was the seller i would be just as persistant because that is where i am getting my money flow. Also to day we went to the womens jewelery co op. It showed how the community is trying to rebuild it self after the problems. Many of the women lost their husbands in the war and the co op helps them to talk about their problems and rebuild their self esteem. Well, gotta go=)



Day 3 (Zach)

im here again in a small internet cafe after checking out of our hotel and riding our bus to Lago De Atitlan. we visited a community market full of indegenious people. also we visited with some co 'ops and i bought some of their homemade clothing. the mayan women were really nice. we are now staying in a hotel right near the lake. the food here is even better but the weather is still overcast.'zach

hola...once again (Zoe)

hi everyone, i have about 1 minute to do this, so im gonna go quick. we went to the market today, lots of fun and visited jewelry co-ops by Mayan women, you bet i bought a ton of it too. having fun, i love u all, thanks for the comments and ill write more soon. xoxoxox zoe
ps yay, i havent gotten burnt yet!!!!!!!!!

The adventure to the lake (Jeremiah)

Hey people out there Jeremiah speaking. Well we are here at the lago de atitlan. I´m writing from maya internet. Today we visted a lot of co-ops that had been formed by mayan women. In this they will make more money and be able to possibly pay for their children to go to schools to get an education. I personally gave them a lot of quetzales today because i liked their work and decided to buy a blanket and 3 skarfs. Everyone chipped in though by things from the womens co-op they were real sweet women.

For your viewing pleasure from Melanie

Here are some pictures from Friday and Saturday...