Volunteer Name: Miro Paradis
Project Location: Quetzaltenango
Program Dates: 03/01/14 – 03/15/14
Volunteered at: Centro de Salud (Clinic)
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
Petra, Juan Mario and Monica were wonderful. They made sure that everything was going well and even helped us plan a weekend trip! Whenever we needed them they were always only a phone call away.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
How fast the people in Guatemala speak Spanish. I almost always had to ask individuals to speak slowly so that I could understand them. ‘Más despácio por favor’. I was also surprised at how friendly everyone was! Almost everyone greeted us on the street with ‘buenos dias, tardes, noches’.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
It was difficult to see some of the improvised areas of Xela and Guatemala in general. It broke my heart every time a hungry child or homeless individual would approach us trying to sell us something. I wish I could have given more to these people!
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Bring your own toiletries and certainly bring medicine just in case you get sick! Try to research and have an idea of what you would like to do on the weekend. Lake Atitlan was beautiful and pretty easy to get to with the help of the coordinators in planning transportation. I would also definitely suggest the language and cultural immersion program. The tutors are awesome and the lessons significantly improved my Spanish-speaking abilities.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. Be open minded
b. Don’t walk around by yourself at night
c. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while speaking Spanish! When in doubt, just say what you w ant to say anyway – practice makes perfect!
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
I came into this trip ready to immerse myself in service to others and learn about a new culture, but I had no idea how eye-opening it would be. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to get out of my scholastic bubble and realize that there is a whole world out there to explore, and so many people that need help! I’ve learned more in these 2 weeks than I could have ever learned in a classroom. I met some pretty extraordinary people and would definitely do it all over again.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
Our host family was wonderful! We certainly felt safe and the meals were amazing. Our host family really helped us improve our Spanish!
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Presenting our donations and medical supplies to the Centro de Salud was my favorite memory of this trip. To see how grateful they were for the much needed supplies truly warmed my heart.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
Excellent, I felt very well prepared for this trip.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?