Notes from Guatemala

Matthew Miller
Margaret Bauer

I have been in Guatemala for a little over a month now. My experiences in Antigua, Guatemala and other parts where I have traveled have been unbelievable learning experiences. Not a day has gone by in which I have not seen or experienced something new.

Guatemala is a remarkably beautiful country. I live in Antigua, Guatemala, which is ringed by three immense volcanoes: Volcan de Agua, Volcan de Fuego and Volcan de Pacaya. I have also traveled to Lake Atitlan, the Pacific Coast, the rain forest, Rio Dulce and the Caribbean Coast. In every place I have been awestruck by the beauty of this country. But in the end, I think my experiences here will be much more valuable to me than my photos of the beautiful vistas.

I came to Guatemala to take classes and to volunteer in my spare time, but I think I have learned more from my time volunteering here than I ever could have learned in a classroom. I have had the amazing opportunity to go into the villages of the poorest of the poor, the ones who live on a dollar or less a day, and to talk with them. I also have had the opportunity to talk to individuals who witnessed, and some that were even wounded, by the civil war that raged here in Guatemala a little more than a decade ago. I have learned about the poor of the world and the civil war in Guatemala at Wash U, but no book, no professor, no movie could ever compare to actually meeting, seeing and talking with the people behind the numbers. For me, this has been the best part of my abroad experience.

It is always fun to travel and see amazing sites like the volcanoes of Guatemala, the tropical rain forests, the truly amazing Mayan cities and the beautiful Caribbean. But I think the greatest part of studying abroad is the experience of meeting and getting to know the people who have had very different experiences in life than many of us in the United States. I am truly in awe of both the beauty of Guatemala and the beauty and resilience of its people.

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