Week One: August 14-19

By Marina Wood

Blog 1: Week One

Here I am again in Guatemala City! Two years ago I came to Guatemala thinking “what the heck have I gotten myself into…?” and today I am here again with much more confidence but a similar feeling of being overwhelmed. Why overwhelmed? Well, let me make one thing clear: it is virtually impossible to make things go the way you plan. What with the rain, the busses, the fair weather taxi drivers (meaning it is only safe to use a taxi driver you know personally, and they aren’t always available), the pre-paid phones that cause people not to want to use minutes, the lack of internet in many households, the danger, … I mean I could go on and on. But regardless of certain setbacks, upsets, and changes, I am incredibly happy with the way the week has gone.

First of all, I got here August 14 in the evening. This time around I am working side by side with Lucia Munoz, the founder and director of MIA, Mujeres Iniciando en las Americas, so we spent the evening catching up and going over out schedule for the week. I arrived by way of Nicaragua for a two week medical mission, so this time it took much less time to get accustomed to the different lifestyle and language. The next day few days I spent organizing paperwork, my room, getting groceries, putting minutes on my phone, buying an internet USB, getting hangers, and creating power point presentations for classes I would be facilitating on Wednesday and Thursday. I also managed to almost burn the apartment down when I plugged in a lamp I wasn’t sure worked and walked away, not realizing it was on and my favorite towel was drying on top of it. Needless to say, nothing burned except a piece of towely.

Just looked at my first blog to see where I left off and realized I didn’t send it! Here is blog #1 below:

Wednesday I facilitated a course at the University of San Carlos (USAC) on Aggressive, Passive and Assertive Communication in the morning with the support of Lucia and in the afternoon I co-facilitated the same course with a young student named Yohanna. The classes were receptive and I felt welcome immediately, which is good because I am basically coming in halfway through their 10 week session on David’s heels. The next day I co-facilitated two courses to two new classes at the USAC on sexual harassment. This was great since I was able to use some material from the White Ribbon Campaign manual and some from my old job at the Sexual Assault Crisis Agency. However, it was a difficult subject to broach since there really isn’t a culture of sexual harassment training in Guatemala like there is in the United States. Though the students said that sexual harassment is a daily reality, by the end of class we were able to recognize that just because it is common does not mean it is acceptable.

Thursday and Friday I spent preparing for Saturday, which would be our first day of a Film Project I created under the umbrella of MIA. I have been excited about this project for months and used Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marinawood/the-revolutionary-filmmaking-project-guatemala?ref=activity) to fundraise for cameras for the students to use and MIA’s amazing lifelong volunteer Daniel Velasquez got some computers donated for them to edit on. I have been collecting reading material and workshops for what feels like forever, but the tedious parts for me are translating and brainstorming. Luckily I found a bilingual volunteer named Abner to help me and we burned the midnight oil finalizing the day’s plan for Saturday.

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