Alejandra, Bryant, and I finally made the long trek to visit our friend Hanna who runs a Montessori preschool in a small village called Tierra Linda in Peten. I don’t venture too far from Antigua and I don’t think Alejandra has ever gone farther than Guatemala City, so it was a big trip for us. 6 hours, an overnight hostel in Coban, then 7 hours more and we were there.

Hanna was an amazing host, overfeeding us and taking special care to make us feel at home and comfortable. We visited the public school where she showed us the start of what will soon be the school library. The IGER program started this year in the village giving students the opportunity to continue their education beyond 6th grade. We talked about water issues and bathroom solutions. We took a walk in the jungle with a few of the neighborhood kids, pointing out the wildlife and picking up tamarind along the way. We had candle lit showers and dinner (no electricity out in the jungle), then slept until the howlers started howling.

I woke up at 6:15am and was greeted by Jersen, one of the boys next door. He was waiting for us to wake up. We talked about our favorite food, what happens if you pick your scabs and what animals live in the jungle. After breakfast we observed the well designed and fully equipped Montessori school. The school is free for the community and kids come in 2 shifts, 7:30am-10am, then 10:30am-1pm with 35 kids registered for each class, though attendance varies. As I sat there watching the kids as they made choices and worked on their materials I thought, this class is a lot like ours. The kids are enjoying themselves and the teacher is patient and engaged. The kids are learning and exploring in a clean, stimulating, and respectful environment. The public school, much worse off then our El Hato school begins with 1st grade so children have very little opportunity to learn and develop before then.

With all that has been going on in El Hato with the construction, new classes, new teachers, visitors, and just a lot more to juggle, I needed to take a step back and see everything from a different perspective. It was nice for me to have someone to talk to who is going through similar successes and challenges, someone to reflect with and ask advice from. Thank you Hanna for everything.

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