Language & Culture


After our work week spent in Panajachel and well needed weekend break on Lake Atitlan, we are now back in San Juan with our host families. Although a change of scenery was nice, it feels good to be back in our homes that we’ve become so attached to. This week we continued with our Spanish classes. After being away from it for so long, I found that I had forgotten a few things and struggled at trying to speak it properly on the first day. It was very choppy and I don’t think my Spanish teacher was too impressed with me but by the next day it all started coming back and I was surprised at how much I actually remembered.

After our first class of Spanish we had our cultural activity. We took a bus to San Antonio and met with some Guatemalan women who talked to us about their many cultural traditions. We learned about the poncho which is more than just a blanket. It has many uses such as carrying a baby or twisting it around the top of your head to make it easier for baskets to balance. We got the chance to balance baskets on our heads after and some of us got the hang of it pretty quickly and were able to walk speedily around the room. I, however, was not one of those people and could barely walk a few feet before feeling like it was going to fall off. Guatemalan women definitely need more credit for this because it’s a lot harder than it looks.
 After this we learned about traditional Guatemalan weddings. Women would wear a garment to show that they were single and men who saw this would go up to them if they were interested and ask them out. After about a year they would get married. A few of us from our group re-enacted this and it was quite funny to watch our friends up there. Our day ended with us having multiple attempts at making tortillas and eating a delicious traditional chicken soup. Overall it was an amazing cultural experience and I learned so much that I didn’t know before.

– Alexis Ogaranko

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