Envisage International is spending one week in Guatemala building an elementary school in the community of Patzalam Choacaman through School the World. We’ve partnered with IvyWise and Flywire for a joint total of 21 volunteers. Read on to hear our story unfold as a school is built.
Day 6: Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions: happiness, anticipation, excitement, joy, love and sadness were all there. The school and play ground were finally complete and it was time to celebrate and officially open the school at the dedication ceremony. As we pulled up to the school, the gravel road that’s normally lined with grass on either side was now wedged between two rows of cars. The entire community had been preparing for and waiting for us to join the ceremony. A tarp covered the space in front of the school where we spent the past week mixing concrete, and the shovels, buckets and wheel barrows had been replaced by small wooden chairs, a sounds system and beautiful banners for the event.
Once we were all seated the celebration started with beautiful thank you messages from members of the community, children, and the vice Mayor. By grade, the children then performed songs and dances and even brought members of the crowd up to join for a dance. Traditional and modern music alike filled the air as the children performed their meticulously orchestrated routines. After the performances it was time to cut the ribbon into the playground of the new school. The Vice Mayor of Santa Cruz del Quiche and Natalie from School the World did the honors and cut the shiny blue ribbon. There was a sea of applause and a mad rush through the fence gate as it swung open. Children ran to the monkey bars and began swinging right away, a smaller blue ribbon tied off the slide prompting a line to form halfway around the playground. After the slide ribbon was cut, a steady line of both children and volunteers made their way through and down the metal piece of equipment. All of the volunteers, school staff and leaders of the community eventually filtered into one side of the new school and were treated to a lunch of soda, grapes, apples, and tamales made by women in the community.
With full bellies we returned to the playground and soccer field where the children had also already returned. After another hour of playing and taking pictures it was time for us to head to Antigua for the evening. The sharing of goodbye and adios sparked many tears for the children and quickly spread to the volunteers and a few parents. There was a steady stream of hugs, some children coming back for three or four rounds. Final pictures were taken, and we loaded into our vans. We waved goodbye and headed back down the gravel road that had become so familiar to us during the week, for the very last time.