Taking Spring Break to a new level
Follow the ongoing partnership between this year’s Global Leadership class and Masons on a Mission
May 10, 2016
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
Over Spring Break, the Global Leadership class traveled to Guatemala to build stoves with the nonprofit, Masons on a Mission. The class is an Honors course on the Dale Mabry campus, and students must have completed a Leadership class to participate.
Honors Director Kathleen King and Professor Dustin Lemke co-taught the course and led students through the trip. They’ve organized the whole thing for a few years now, and had really refined a fun yet powerful learning experience for everyone involved.
The work trip spanned nine days, across the cities of Antigua and San Marcos. Some of the class had been out of the country before, but for others, this would be their first experience on foreign soil. The whole Global Leadership class is designed around the trip, meaning students must go to Guatemala to pass. With that in mind, the weeks before actually going were spent on preparation.
Students prepared and showed presentations to the rest of the class with topics ranging from the Guatemalan education system, to technology, language, clothing and food. The class grew closer with every
The class grew closer with every meeting, but truly became a family on the trip. Armed with
Armed with fresh knowledge of Guatemalan culture and handy carry-on sized backpacks, the group of 22 felt prepared on the first day of travel. This travel included the flight to Guatemala City and a three hour bus ride into Antigua.
The hotel in Antigua was right around the corner from a soon-to-be popular breakfast restaurant amongst the group. The hotel itself had a small but beautiful courtyard in the middle, opening into the roof on the third floor, which would also become a common area.
After an evening of exploring Antigua, the group returned to the hotel, where they would take up a fair amount of the rooms. Students bonded by playing games, cards, and just simply talking.
The next day the class met the Masons they would be working with in San Marcos. The meeting occurred after a full day of discovering Antigua. Classes in the past haven’t gotten the extra day, and this energy transferred into the meeting with the Masons.
Pat Manley, the man that spearheaded the project, continued a tradition established a few years back of exchanging friendship bracelets with the students. These bracelets were a lovely keepsake for remembering the experience.
The following morning had another long bus ride in store. After having secured their baggage up top, the group climbed into the bus and glided through winding mountains, passing waterfalls, Guatemalan chicken buses, and many markets.
This ride overlooked Lake Atitlan, which the students would take a boat across to get to San Marcos. Although beautiful, the lake is very dirty, as the waste from bordering towns gets washed into it during heavy rains.
Once in San Marcos, students were divided into separate little houses in what would be their home for the week, Paco Real. The owner has been very accommodating to each class every year they’ve gone, and this year was no different.
After learning the basics of stove-building, students were matched up to a mason. These groups of around three would grow close over the next five days of hard work.
Students and masons alike welcomed the first day of work with open arms. This was the longest day for all of the eight groups, as everyone was learning how to build a stove with bricks and mortar.
Three brightly colored pick-up trucks would shuttle groups to and from their daily working locations. Everyone would stand in the back, holding onto a railing that ran down the middle of the bed. This ride would prove to be one of the highlights of the day with beautiful views of Lake Atitlan, the mountains, and even the volcano.
Five days passed in this fashion, with forty families benefiting. These stoves are very important for the Guatemalan people, because most homes use an open fire with blocks. Masons on a Mission came in to help families breathe cleaner air.
These open fires are not only dangerous, but also fill the space with smoke, which the cook, often the mother with a baby on her back, inhales for hours at a time.
The stoves the class built have chimneys that direct the smoke outside of the home, through the roof. Many families also use the stoves to make and sell food, which can be their only source of income.
Predictably, by the final day of work, not only were the students exhausted from the labor, they were also emotionally tired due to the nature of the labor.
The families were so appreciative and willing to help wherever they could. Students would often play games and befriend the children with conversational Spanish.
After the work week was completed, the group traveled once more to Antigua.
When the last night in Antigua came to an end, it was time to return back home to the States. An exhausted, but fulfilled group boarded the plane now bonded by something great.
Ask anyone who has been on the trip questions to get his personal view, but know that the true impact of it all can only be taken in by participating in such a life changing experience.
Take Global Leadership in the Spring semester to form life-long friendships and to change the lives of the locals, your peers, and even yourself.