Archive for the 'Alternative Spring Break' Category

The Last Two Days

Hola Mis Amigos!

Thursday Day 6

Today we woke up early for our work with the artisans. There were three different options for artisan work: metal work, word work and textiles. The wood work and metal working teams got up early to go to San Juan and textiles stayed in San Miguel Escobar.

Ann and I stayed in town to do the textiles workshop. The lady that runs the textiles is Timoteo’s (the farmer who led us for construction) daughter. We went with our guide, Jane to their house and the fun began. We got to pick our our fabrics. They are the fabrics of traditional Huipil Guatemalan wear. There is one fabric for the top of the purse which is usually what they wear as their tops, and the bottom that usually makes their skirts is what makes the back of the purse. Each fabric is specific to a certain area and if you were to go to that town, most of the people would be wearing it. These ladies also hand weave these fabrics which can take up to a year. Picking out fabrics was so hard because they were all so beautiful!

The wood working group got to make these beautiful trays from scratch. They were all really happy with how these turned out!

There was also a metal working workshop where they could make an item of choice and weld it into an animal or shape. This group said that the work was very hard but fun, and you definitely needed patience for it. They really seemed to have a good time and some hilarious stories of the process. Especially where Karissa and puppies are concerned.



Our artisan workshops took about half the day, and after lunch we met up at the De La Gente house before catching the chicken bus to Antigua for some shopping. I am going to leave it up to the trip members to fill you in on the details about the chicken bus, but I will tell you that it s a public transportation system that gets very crowded at time. It also gets very bumpy because Antigua is entirely old cobblestone that hasn’t been repaired in a while, It is beautiful, but bumpy. Today, Antigua was much less busy than it was the first Sunday that we first visited on, It gave us a chance to see more of the city. Before we got to do any souvenirs shopping, we had a market challenge to do. We were in charge of finding and bargaining for ingredients for dinner, without a translator. The supermercado was unlike anything i’ve ever seen. It is millions of clothes, shoes, flowers, produce, and meat shoppes all crammed together, Is is both exciting and overwhelming, so thankfully we were in groups for this activity, When we were done getting our ingredients we went into the artisan market where we were cut loose for an hour to spend as we pleased. We really liked this market because we knew we were supporting the people that made these items, rather than some places that all have the same items and were less unique, It also helped because, by this time, we were much better at bargaining prices. Well, except for Nicole, it is a running joke that she is the only one who can talk up a price from its original.

When we were done shopping we caught a chicken bus back to San Miguel Escobar and returned home to start cooking our ingredients. Our menu consisted of nachos ( popular around here), home-made guacamole, pineapple mango smoothies, and chocolate covered plantains for dessert. We all worked together to cook it which made it even more delicious when we ate it. It was a blast working together to make it and laugh about stories from the market


Riding the chicken bus!


Day 7 Friday

Today was an early rising day because we are headed to Lake Atitlan! Our free day options were hiking an active volcano or going to the lake and we opted for this because of its rumored beauty and variety of activities. What a good choice that was! Aside from the super bumpy three hour car ride, this whole day was fantastic. We got to the lake around 10AM and Chau, Stephanie and Sam immediately were dropped off for zip lining. They got to zip line for about two hours and got to see monkeys and a butterfly garden along the way. The rest of us, having had enough adventure on the ride over, headed down the mountain further to kayak on the lake. The lake was beautiful and super clear. We rented some kayaks and spent about an hour on the water just hanging out. After an adventure packed week, this was just what we needed. Around noon we took a break for lunch at a restaurant in town and got to eat alongside some hummingbirds flying around us. This area is super touristy so there were also a lot of shoppes to go to for those of us who still had Quetzales left to spend. There were dozens of markets and so many things to see. We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping until we met at 4pm and headed back to Antigua for our goodbye dinner. This was the first time we got to see the night life in Antigua and it was beautiful. There were light everywhere and people eating and walking in the center park. We got to our restaurant which was moon and star themed and served only crepes. It was such a fancy place, the decorations were to die for and the waiters ordered off ipads. This also is the first time we really saw handheld technology being used. The food was fantastic and we got to eat and spend time with each of our tour guides and leaders from De La Gente. It was the perfect goodbye, even though it was hard to say goodbye.


Saturday Day 8

Today was very sad because we had to say our goodbyes to this beautiful city and the wonderful people that we met along the way. We had one last breakfast from the ladies, and got to hang our with Jane once more before our bus came to take us to the Guatemala City airport. We will all miss this city and it’s people dearly and I don’t think any one of us would trade this experience for the world. Thank you to all who helped us get here, supported us while we were here, or helped make this trip as amazing as it was. This was truly a life changing experience.

Adios mis amigos y hasta lugeo Guatemala.(null) copy


Home safe!

Hi Everyone! Melani, here!

After about 10 hours of traveling, we arrived home last night. It was such a fun trip, and an amazing experience, but I think I speak for everyone when I say we were happy to sleep in our own beds last night! I was planning on blogging last night once I was home, but I was out like a light!

Friday we had our last day at GMHC. We watched a powerful documentary called “How to Survive a Plague”. If you can get your hands on it, I highly suggest you watch it! It focuses on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and how back then, the government was reluctant to spend a lot of money to try to find a cure, or even medication to help slow the progression of the disease. The documentary follows Act Up, a civil rights group through their journey to get medication that is safe and effective. It was an extremely emotional journey. There’s this one scene where they go to Washington DC, and start dumping the ashes of their loved ones on the White House lawn to get people to listen. It was a powerful statement, and it breaks my heart to know that people had to go that far!

We were all a little sad to leave GMHC. It was such an incredible opportunity, and we all learned so much! Its hard to put into words how valuable this time was for me. One thing someone said to us really stuck out to me. Someone said, “It might seem like you’re not doing much. But even if you’re just stuffing envelopes, it’s important. One of those envelopes you’re stuffing might raise thousands of dollars to help people.”

After leaving GMHC for the last time, we went to the historical Stone Wall Inn. For those of you who don’t know, the Stone Wall Inn is a historically famous gay bar. This is where many people say the gay rights movement began. Back in the 1970’s, it was illegal to sell a drink to anyone who was gay, so they opened bars specifically for people who identified that way. It was also a law, that you had to wear three items of clothing from your gender. A lot of these people dressed how they wanted, and often these bars were subject to police raids, even though they didn’t do anything wrong. On one of these raids at the Stonewall Inn, people fought back, and riots ensued. This started the gay rights movement.


It was amazing to get to go inside this bar. It still operates as a gay bar, and it’s decorated with newspaper articles from that time period. We went to look around, and by chance, the one guy sitting in the bar happened to be at the riots that night so long ago! It was amazing to hear the story from someone who was actually there. We were incredibly lucky!

After Stonewall, we had a little down time to get ready for Broadway! We went to see Kinky Boots, and it was a great performance. The premise is a man takes over his father’s failing shoe business after he passes away. In order to save the company he starts making a new product, shoes for drag queens. It’s a hilarious show!

Saturday morning, we had a few hours to explore and have breakfast one last time. (I am going to miss crepes SO much!) and then we flew to Chicago and met up with the New Orleans group and drove back to Oshkosh. It was a long trip, but so worth it!

Team Member: Megan

My name is Megan Allermann and I am a Junior studying Human Service Leadership. My favorite part of the trip is getting to know my fellow Titans and do service work that will change the world one step at a time. The amount of work we are doing here is helping so many people and giving them hope. I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned and bring it back to Oshkosh! 


Team Member: Ashley

Hello my name is Ashley! My major is elementary education. I’m a junior here at UW Oshkosh. My favorite part of the trip was being able to talk to locals as we were helping. Hearing their stories about survival and hope was inspiring. 


Gator Count:35

Today was our last full day in NOLA. we had a free day from volunteering and went on our bayou tour and to the zoo. During our tour we counted 35 gators around the boat. We even got to hold a little baby gator which was most of ours favorite part of the tour. 

Afterwards we went to lunch and then to the Audubon Zoo. We broke off into groups to explore the ginormous property. Our group member Jess has always had jumping into a fountain on her bucket list, and today she was able to fulfill that dream!! She was overly excited as seen in the last photo. We all got to see monkeys, snakes and MORE GATORS!!!! It was a full eventful day! 

We head back to (snowy) Wisconsin tomorrow. We are all so homered to be able to tell about all of the work we have done this week. Thank you to friends and family that have supported us throughout the whole process.  



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