Pepijn’s Volunteer Experience

I was with Niños de Guatemala for 2 months during Summer School where I gave Field Hockey classes to the kids, it was so fun! The children absolutely loved it and they were so happy. They listened really well and really learned a lot. I also helped the teacher in giving classes, correcting papers and more – I also gave a few math and English classes! Besides the work and projects, Niños de Guatemala is very active as well. They organise special social volunteer nights where you meet a lot of new people and have an awesome time. The people who work at Niños are also really caring. For example, they are on hand 24 hours and will arrange home visit doctors and help with anything else you need whilst you are in country. Niños de Guatemala is really awesome and would highly recommend it to individuals and groups!

New Year in Latin America

by John F Burke

Happy New Year! For many, the coming of a new year offers new hope. Across Latin American there are several traditions - new and old - that people partake in in hopes of making the New Year the best year.

One that I plan to adopt is Peruvian tradition of wearing colored underwear. This has actually spread across the border to many Latin American countries. While wearing either yellow for luck or red for passion is the original tradition in Peru, other countries have added green for financial success. I think I will wear all three and have the best year ever!

A more popular tradition which started in Spain that many Latin American countries have incorporated into their festivities involves eating twelve grapes for twelve wishes - one a month for the coming year. Beware of sour grapes though; they could be a sign of a bad month. In some countries the grapes are followed by a spoonful of lentil beans. And others just carry lentils in their pockets or purses for luck.

Another interesting tradition involves the burning of a doll. In general this act represents putting the past behind you. Sometimes what is burned isn’t just any doll however, it could be a doll representing a corrupt politician or maybe someone on your fútbol team who missed a crucial goal.

Colombians have a traditional called “pelado” where they put three potatoes under their bed, one peeled, one half-peeled and one unpeeled. They then reach under the bed and take the first potato they touch. An unpeeled potato means you will have a year of financial fortune; a half-peeled leads to a year of normal ups and downs; and the peeled potato will give you money problems. Avoid the peeled potato!

For New Year celebrations in Guatemala there is lively music, colorful costumes, and fireworks. Some Guatemalans still celebrate the Mayan New Year as well. The Mayan year has 360 calendar days and 19 months. The 19th month, called Wayeb is only 5 days long. Mayans called these extra days as "time out of time". It was time to be thankful for the fortunes of the previous year and look forward to the positive energy of the next Mayan year. During this period there are Mayan fire ceremonies, sunrise and sunset ceremonies, and mid-day ceremonies that take place around the Lake Atitlan.

However you chose to celebrate, have fun and enjoy the newness while it lasts. It won’t be long before 2018 sneaks up on us.

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Antigua, Guatemala


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