Tag Archives: Guatemala

Guatemala – Tourism in Lake Atitlán – by Ada Luz Moreno Gomez. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Guatemala – Tourism in Lake Atitlán – by Ada Luz Moreno Gomez. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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Over the summer I had the opportunity to visit the deepest lake in Central America: Lake Atitlán, located in the department of Sololá, Guatemala. Not only is the view of lake and its three surrounding volcanos worth the trip, but the remnants of Mayan culture I was able to witness made my short stay there unforgettable. There are 12 main villages surrounding the lake, and although most of them are approximately half an hour away by boat or car, they have each managed to establish their own unique niches, being mostly inhabited by Maya Kaqchikel and Maya Tz’utujil communities.

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Making my way to Lake Atitlán from Guatemala City was an enjoyable experience by itself, and as a passerby I was able to get a glimpse into life in the Guatemalan highlands. On either side of the road I was greeted with either panoramic views of mountains and pines or vast plantations of cabbage and maize. The locals in the area are mainly indigenous, and what from afar can be seen as an explosion of colors and textiles is usually a small group of people selling their crafts and freshly picked strawberries.

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More than 60% of the population in Guatemala is of Maya descent, and the rural department of Sololá has one of the largest populations of indigenous people. However, it is not uncommon to see indigenous people with their traditional attires speaking in their native tongues in more urban settings like the capital.

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One of the main points of access to the lake is through the town of Panajachel. Panajachel, or ‘Pana’ as the locals call it, is one of the most commercial towns around the lake and it’s famous for its street markets, restaurants and tourist friendly activities. Although Panajachel is fairly small, it is booming with activity and people from all over the world. You can see anything from traditional indigenous markets to luxury resorts all in the same street.

With this is mind, tourism and the towns surrounding Lake Atitlan are full of complexities and contradictions. While dining at one of the restaurants in Panajachel, it became surprisingly easy to forget we were deep in the highlands of Guatemala. Everything from the decorations, to the music and the people made me feel as if I was back in any main city of Latin America. However, in the back of the restaurant where the kitchen was, dressed in their traditional attire, and baking pizzas in large stone ovens were two very old indigenous women, continuously kneading the pizza dough even though it was almost midnight.

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From Panajachel visitors and residents take small boats to the adjacent lakeside towns. Even though from afar many of these towns appear to be fairly similar, they all have very distinctive characteristics and personalities. Some, like the town of San Pedro are preferred by back papers for its relaxed atmosphere, and others like San Antonio or Santa Catarina Palopo offer the opportunity of deeper cultural immersions as they are isolated and small. The town of San Marcos for example is known for its peacefulness and beautiful hiking trails. San Marcos’ streets are too narrow for cars and because it’s surrounded by dense vegetation while walking you only hear birds chirping, making my stay there incredibly enjoyable.

Many European and American tourists have fallen in love with San Marcos, and some have chosen to stay and open yoga and holistic centers, hiring the locals as employees. In its tiny roads you can see indigenous people selling crystals and natural remedies, making even the locals and commerce adapt to the ‘spiritual experience’ going to San Marcos has become. But past the ecofriendly hostels and meditation centers, up and away from the village center, you can see the local Maya community of San Marcos, where life seems a lot different than what San Marcos comes across as in tour guides and brochures. Like many of the Maya villages around lake Atitlán, despite the commerce and technology tourism has brought for some, many of the locals remain impoverished and with less land to cultivate.

Above all, my trip to Lake Atitlán was filled with memories of beautiful places, admirable hardworking individuals, and unforgettable sceneries, many of them exposing both the beauty and burdens many regions throughout Latin America experience. It was remarkable to see that among many of the lake side resorts and vacation homes, next to many of the tourists in kayaks and boats like me, there were still locals who fished for a living in their canoes and spoke Spanish only as a second or third language.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Guatemala – Am I Really Helping? — The North Star Reports – by Jennifer Battcher. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Guatemala – Am I Really Helping? — The North Star Reports – by Jennifer Battcher. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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I went to Guatemala on a volunteer service trip. Our group provided help to the people of San Lucas Tolimán. We were free labor and extra hands. We sorted coffee beans, made concrete, planted trees and landscaped for a women’s center.

One day we went to the shop of a local store owner who sold hand crafted kitchen utensils. I was given a machete and a block of wood. On the wood was a sketch of a spatula with the handle curving into a beautiful Quetzal, the Guatemalan state bird. The directions were to carve the spatula out, then trade the machete for sand paper to file it down.

I began hacking away at the wood, the giant knife making clumsy splits. It wasn’t long before I chopped off the beak of the carefully drawn Quetzal. Unsure of how to continue, I brought the mangled spatula to the store owner, pointing at the deformed bird. That’s when I saw it.

It flashed across his face for only an instant before he regained his composure and told me to round it out into a bulb handle. But it was too late. I had already seen it. His face, for the briefest of moments, showed disappointment. Frustration. Exasperation. Perhaps annoyance that he had to waste his precious resources on a group of foreign volunteers with unskilled hands. Suddenly, I saw my volunteer trip in a new light.

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Eighteen years old and fresh out of high school, I was no craftsman. I wonder what it is like for the residents of these places. Foreigners show up wanting to help better the country, some with their own ideas of how things should be. The people have to find work for this group of volunteers, hopefully something that will actually benefit the community. The skill levels of these volunteers are so diverse and sometimes unknown to the people they are there to assist. To this day I look back on that trip, and all other trips I have taken as a volunteer in another country, and I wonder, “Am I really helping?”

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Colombia, Norway, northeastern China, Nicaragua, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, El Salvador, England, Finland, Russia, Cyprus, and Haiti. We also publish student reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Guatemala – A Siesta — The North Star Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Jennifer Battcher

Guatemala View from Women's Center

Guatemala – A Siesta — The North Star Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal

When I was in Guatemala, the group I was with spent a day landscaping for a new women’s center. This was the most physically backbreaking work I had ever done, and we Minnesotans were sweating it out under the hot Guatemalan sun. During our lunch break, as we guzzled water and wiped the sweat off of our dirty faces, our translator told us that the crew of Guatemalans we were working with wanted to take a siesta in the afternoon because it would be too hot to work. Knowing “siesta” translated to “nap” we were thrilled. We began talking excitedly about how we were going to spend the afternoon sleeping in the cool sweet shade of the trees. We went back to work, and around two in the afternoon the translator said the Guatemalan crew wanted to stop for the siesta. Shouts of joy arose from the Minnesota bunch. But the translator went on to say that the Guatemalans had invited us to play “fútbol” with them. I had to laugh. Apparently, a “siesta” in Guatemala doesn’t necessarily mean a nap or rest. The Minnesota people could think of nothing but resting after a hard day’s work sweating it out in the hot mountain air. The Guatemalans wanted a break too, but their idea of a break from a hard day’s work in the hot sun was an active game of fútbol. We did join in their game and had a great time. I would gladly choose fútbol in Guatemala over a nap any day.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU

For all of the North Star Reports, see http://NorthStarReports.org

The North Star Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School, Duluth Denfeld High School, and other schools around the world to the North Star Project. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2013-present The Middle Ground Journal. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Filed under Jennifer Battcher, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang