March brought in a change in weather and some amazing groups! Our first group that came to volunteer with us was a group from Noble & Greenough School of 8th and 9th graders, from the Boston area. They worked hard all week mixing cob, cutting plastic bottle shingles, and hauling bamboo that weighed more than they did! The students’ hard-working, positive attitudes were refreshing for us to see and their leaders were a fantastic team that maintained the motivation and growth throughout the week. The Nobles students played football (soccer) with our CETC students that were the same age as them. They helped our students with their English, while our students helped them with their Spanish. They enjoyed trying new foods, hearing new music and riding in our local taxis (tuk tuks). Erica, a Long Way Home veteran, returned for the fourth time with this group and could not believe how much had changed since she started visiting Long Way Home several years ago. We enjoyed having them here for a great week and seeing how the students grew and soaked up the experience just within a few days. They then enjoyed the weekend in Antigua jam packed with activities planned by their leaders, well deserved!
We then got to spend Spring Break with not one, not two, but three incredible Hillel groups, from California - University of California San Diego, University of California Santa Cruz and San Diego State University. These 3 Hillels were all returning groups from previous years. Alternative Break 2017 brought mostly new students and a few returning volunteers for a total of 40 volunteers all at once! They got along and worked together so well it was hard to tell who came from which school. Having so many volunteers at once was a tremendous help and we were able to progress a lot in the short week with everyone working together. They gave color to our corridor by painting it the colors of the rainbow, made and added cob to our newest buildings and pounding tires. Some volunteers also learnt how to make Ubuntu blocks (compressed trash) and paper blocks, while others cleared the forest, helped create new walls and cut more plastic shingles. The construction staff took on our groups in a friendly football match one afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to have some serious competition. Members from the groups tried their hands at tortilla making, while others helped out a local school with English classes. UCSD and SDSU enjoyed a relaxing Shabbat here in Comalapa while UCSC broke in Shabbat from the top of Volcan Pacaya. All the groups finished out their week with a well earned night in Antigua for a tour, volcano hike and fun.
Many thanks to UCSD, UCSC, SDSU Hillels and Noble & Greenough for considering Long Way Home for your Spring Break and for all of your dedication and support! We hope to see you all again next year!
Check out more photos from the groups experiences on our facebook page