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4 months, 5 countries, 1 backpack… December 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — kgrader @ 8:53 pm

I’m not so sure about this whole blogging thing, but I was encouraged to give it a try. I can’t promise that this will be super interesting, or updated on a regular basis, but I figure it’s a good place to allow everyone to join me on my adventure. I am determined to keep everyone in the loop through this blog. You can read it, comment, ask questions- do as you please! I will try to be very good about debriefing my adventures here!

Starting on January 7th I will be headed to Central America for 4 months with 19 of my new best friends. This program will allow me to gain a better understanding of Latin American culture and why I have been so drawn to that part of the world. Where am I going and what am I doing?

  • Guatemala for 3 weeks. We go to a language school in Xela where we meet with our private Guatemalan tutor for 5 hours every day. We are paired up in homestays and get to experience the real Guatemalan culture through our host families. At the end of these three weeks, we are sent on “El Plunge”. We are split into groups of 4 (ish) and given a name of a city, a few tasks to accomplish, and a little cash– then it’s up to us to get there in one piece!!!!
  • Honduras is next- 4 weeks. We get dropped off at our individual homestays in rural Honduras. We will be experiencing what it will be like to live in poverty and how day-to-day activities differ there. I am very nervous for this portion of the trip. Apparently, Honduran Spanish is quite different from the Spanish that we are taught here…Yikes. I’m not looking forward to all this confusion. AND, we have NO communication with the outside world in these homestays. This will be probably the most challenging thing I will ever do, and I’m so excited to grow from it.
  • Then, Costa Rica- 3 weeks! We start our Costa Rican adventure at Punta Mona- a self-sustaining retreat center. (You can google it; it’s super cool). Then we head for the outskirts of San Jose to Whitworth’s new Costa Rican campus. We will get to zip-line and see the Caribbean beaches. My mom, dad, and sister are all coming to visit me there too! It will be SO nice to see them after 2 and a half months!
  • In Nicaragua- 2 1/2 weeks (I think)- we get to look at religion and politics and how they work side-by-side in Latin America. Because there is no separation of Church and state, the two cannot operate without the other. Also, Nicaragua has a very large┬áRoman Catholic population and a huge Protestant population- the two have the tendency to collide. It will be wild to experience such drastic differences all within one country.
  • Finally, El Salvador- 3 weeks. Here we will be studying economics and politics. El Salvador relies heavily on remittances (money being sent to El Salvador from immigrant workers in the US), and therefore their economy is quite interesting; it’s never been strong. Karla Morgan, our professor for this portion, grew up in El Salvador so not only do we get to understand the country from a natives perspective, we also get to participate in all the exciting aspects of the country! For example, we go waterfall jumping and get to celebrate Holy Week with El Salvadorans. Holy Week is the biggest celebration in El Salvador and it’s one big fiesta for the whole week- Karla will teach us how to do it right! ­čÖé

We don’t know many specific details about the adventure we are about to embark on, but I don’t think we need them. Simply knowing that this experience will change our lives forever is enough to have me thrilled about it.

So, am I ready? Probably not, but my backpack is packed, my passport is ready, and I’ve said my good-byes.

Adios, see you in Guatemala!!!!!