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Saint Ignatius High School

Guatemala Mission Trip Reflections

Making their way through a mission trip to Guatemala under the direction of Mr. Bill Kelley '62 and Dr. Anthony Fior '02, rising seniors are sharing daily reflections and summaries. Here are the first two, written by Claudio Calzado and Billy Arroyo.

Day 1 Reflection - Claudio Calzado '19

On our first stop in Guatemala, we visited the city dump. I didn't know what to expect, maybe people scavenging through piles of trash. We could spot the dump from miles away by the swarm of vultures circling over the heaps of trash. When we arrived, the first thing I could notice was the stench from the piles of trash. It took some time to get used to it, but what really amazed me was the trash site itself.

Standing on a cliff, we looked down upon giant mountains of trash. These heaps stretched out upon its site, eliminating any view of dirt or grass. Stray dogs lounged around the landfill, getting themselves comfortable on thrown-out mattresses. Vultures were picking at newly added trash, hoping to find something tasteful. Trucks were dumping trash every so often so that natives could salvage anything useful. Everywhere I looked, I saw white streaks of garbage meshed with useless junk.

I couldn't imagine anyone working at this site, risking their health for a hope of earning $3.50. Instead of working with their parents, the children of these workers stay at a nearby school overlooking the trash site. Although the kids can smell the stench of the site and see their parents salvage anything useful, they are kept safe from anything harmful that lies in the dump.

This experience gave me a better realization on the struggles people endure in life. It gave me an appreciation for what I have and how fortunate my life has been. There are many people who struggle to feed their families, and we must do more to help these families out of their state.

Day 2 Reflection - Billy Arroyo '19

Today we woke up at 6:45 and did our usual routine, which consists of prayer together in the chapel as a group and breakfast after. After breakfast we left and I went to Santa Clara school where I worked with 6- and 7-year-olds. We first played outside and we played tag together; they really wore me out. Next the whole school gathered together outside and had a little assembly where they all sang the Guatemalan national anthem together as a school, which I thought was really cool.
After the assembly was over it was time for them to learn. We went into the classroom and they were practicing how to write the letter P. I really enjoyed working with all the kids at Santa Clara because they were so friendly and they really loved me. They loved to hold your hand, give you hugs, and sit on your lap.
Our next stop was a school called Uruguay where we didn't work with the kids but instead we did manual worked. My job was to build a wall, which I have never done in my life. It was really hard at first, but at the end I got really good at it. To build the wall you have to take concrete from a bucket and use a cuchara to spread the concrete on the bricks. Then you have to carefully lay the brick down and make sure it lines up with the brick next to it by using a level. Building the wall was my favorite thing I did today because I was horrible at the beginning, but I gradually saw myself improving the more I did it.