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January Short-Term Programs in Guatemala

Fidel Xinico-Tum, Program Coordinator, worked with the following groups in Guatemala in January and shared short reports from their short-term study abroad program.

Boston College, January 4-11, 2015

This group had a full experience that covered religion and social change, military issues, and public health.

Upon arrival, that participants went directly to the Mission of San Lucas Toliman, where they had the opportunity to tour the development projects. Students learned about the influence of the Catholic Church in social change, particularly in increasing access to education, health services, land and housing.  The Boston College group was able to visit and family home, where they learned from a community member about growing up on a coffee plantation.  Through the support of the mission projects, he was able to liberate himself and now lives in his own house in the town of San Lucas Toliman with his family.

The group then continued on to the ex-guerrilla community of Santa Anita in Colomba, where students lodged with homestay families.  They met a current member of the Guatemalan army and learned about the present-day role of the military.   In this community, the Boston College group also met with a doctor to learn about health issues, especially as they relate to Guatemalan women.

St. Catherine University, January 5-27, 2015

This trip focused on health in the context of social, political, economic, spiritual, cultural, historical and environmental influences.  The group was very intentional in looking at health broadly and deeply, not just in the context of the absence of disease.   St. Kate’s students started their experiential learning journey in Guatemala City visiting the garbage dump and then seeing a mall in the “new Guatemala” to make that contrast. They were also able to meet with young people who are struggling to overcome drug addiction.

After spending time in the city, the group traveled to the countryside, where they learned about health issues in rural, economically disadvantaged areas.  A highlight was meeting with a local midwife.