Field Trip, Band Fundraising, Fuego Volcano Relief
The following is extracted from the blog of Sofia Gomez, an english teacher at UPAVIM in Guatemala City.
As I write this, we are a few weeks into our third quarter, and we have our mid-year break in a week. Work continues to be busy and trying at times, but every now and then classes get interrupted with a special or random event, which is a welcome breather. The changes in schedule keep things interesting and us on our toes.
At the end of the first quarter, we went on an excursion to DiverCity. The place was located in an upscale mall about an hour and a half away from the school, but we had gotten a good deal to go — paying Q35 when the original price is over Q100 — so we made an excursion out of it.
DiverCity is basically a mini city where the children can take on roles of professionals. Adults are allowed to enter to chaperone the kids, but we’re not allowed to actually go inside many of the rooms in the mini city. So even though we weren’t allowed to participate, it was still fun being inside. Before entering, the kids are given a check for 200 divis. So first up, upon entering the “city,” they line up at the bank to cash their checks.
With their divis they can then visit the different attractions like the supermarket, driving school, theatre, beauty center, talent show, cooking school, tv station, etc. I found DiverCity really cool because it is sponsored by brands and companies found in Guatemala. For example the bank is Banco Industrial, one of the big banks in the country, the supermarket is La Torre, the gas station Shell, the newspaper was Prensa Libre, and many more.
There were lots of different activities to go around. I spent the first couple of hours going around with the kids and seeing them enjoy. In several attractions the kids had to pay to participate in, and if they used up all their divis they had to work to earn more. One example of a paid attractions was the driving school where the kids got to earn their licenses before being able to drive “on the streets.”
After they get their licenses they can go to the station to rent a car, and the experience is complete with stopping by the gas station.
On the other hand, an example of a paid job was the fireman; it was this cute little boy’s favorite. They got to ride on the fire truck, and then stop at a “burning building” to put out the fire (think mini hoses like in those games at fairs).
The veterinarian station had a real dog (there were two or three dogs on “shift”). I really wanted to go inside to pet the dogs, haha!
Other attractions included a radio station, supermarket and cookie factory, architecture and design, a bus that went around the city, and many more. The space was actually a lot smaller than I expected, but well maximized as there were many activities to partake in. We spent a good three hours or so, and all of the kids had fun. It was such a unique experience for almost all of them.
New School Band Fundraising!
One thing that’s been ongoing at school is several fundraising events. Every Thursday, the students (and teachers) can come in “ropa particular” (casual clothes) instead of their uniform, if they pay Q2. On one day we also had a raffle; the students spent the week prior getting their friends and family members to buy tickets, then we gathered up on the roof to pick the winners.
On another day us teachers made some pupusas to sell after school. I got the Friday morning off from the park and accompanied two teachers to go shopping for everything we’d need. Then we spent the rest of the morning preparing the dough, fillings and salsa. The teachers started selling in the late afternoon.
All of these particular fundraisers raised us enough money to buy our first batch of instruments for a school band we hoped to form! It will be very exciting to see how that turns out.
Fuego Volcano Relief Effort
Last, but not least, we had a special relief effort for those displaced and affected by the recent volcano eruptions in Guatemala. As you may have heard on the news, there was recently a deadly eruption from Fuego Volcano in Alotenango which buried villages and left many people dead, missing, and displaced. In the week that followed, communities in the nearby towns were cleaning their streets from ash, rescuers were looking for missing people and helping those evacuating, and people all over the country were giving aid or help to those in need. At school, we also helped in collecting goods. Students were asked to bring and donate food or clothes, and were then treated to a clown/magic show in the morning. We got a good amount of donations.
The relief efforts going on around the country remind me of the ones we do back home in the Philippines whenever a bad typhoon hits. It’s always heartwarming to see people come together to help their fellow countrymen, and I’m glad the school played their part.