Bringing the World to a Guatemalan School
By Jonathan Pearson on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
September 2nd was Labor Day in the United States. In Guatemala, it was just the start of another work week.
For the participants of Next Step Travel – Guatemala (NST-G), however, September 2nd also marked the start of the group’s second and final service project…a project that has deep roots in the history of Peace Corps service for the past quarter-century.
Back in 1988, Dominican Republic Peace Corps Volunteer Barbara Jo White had no books or other resources to teach world geography. But she did have a wall, and on it she and her community created a map of the world. Since then, hundreds (if not thousands) of world maps have been produced across every continent. The World Map Project has become an iconic part of Peace Corps service.
It’s also become a staple for NST-G participants. On Monday and Tuesday, the group traveled about an hour outside the home base in Xela, to the town of Santa Maria de Jesus. Over those two days, travel group members – with a big assist from a lot of students – created a world map on the wall of what will soon be the new library at the elementary school.
Edgar Solorzano is a lifelong resident of the community and principal of the school for the past sixteen years. ”The library is going to be a place often visited by students and by all people of the community. They will be able to use the library, see the map and all of the countries.”
For Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) Alan and Marian Ruge, this is the fifth map project they have
participated in. They previously did two world maps and a country map in Ghana, and assisted a serving Peace Corps Volunteer with a world map while they were World Teach volunteers in Ecuador.
“I think this is an excellent activity, because so many RPCVs have not seen or heard of (the World Map Project) before,” said Alan. ”It introduces former volunteers to one of the better projects Peace Corps promotes. It is totally non-political and totally educational.”
Because of their experience with such projects, the Ruge’s brought along some sealant that will be applied once the map is fully dried, as rain (for outdoor maps) humidity and general wear and tear can cause the maps to deteriorate.
The sealant should triple the lifespan of the map. Meanwhile, with the school year ending in October, Principal Solorzano says he hopes the new library should be operating when the school year resumes in January. ”At the beginning of the year, we will show the kids what is inside the library. We will show them books. We will show them maps. So when the school year is running, as they study continents and countries, they will come here to look in the library.”
Learn how you can join future Next Step Travel programs in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala: travel.peacecorpsconnect.org. NPCA’s Next Step Travel program provides hyper-local small group travel: an RPCV-facilitated itinerary featuring unparalleled local access, cultural immersion, non-extreme adventure and volunteer opportunities. Most trips offer both a 14-day and a 10-day option, unless otherwise specified. All trips are accompanied by an NPCA Host.
Join our Next Step Travel (NST) country group, a place to ask questions, get program details, & meet other Next Step Travel travel-with-a-purpose travelers. This group is a place where alumni, future NST participants, and those who are interested in NST can have an open forum to share photos, videos, discuss programs details, and make new friends! Guatemala: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NextStepTravel.guatemala/