SC4 students see the world: lessons learned

“SC4 to offer service abroad experience,” the message I saw in my student connections email. It triggered me to click the link and read on. I have had previous experience traveling to China, so this sounded like another wonderful opportunity to take part in.

St. Clair County Community College was going to send students to Guatemala, May 23-31. All I needed to do was fill out the application, which required a name, address, passport, a short essay, and $500. I had all of that and I turned my application in by the April 1 deadline.

April 6 came around and it was the night of the Student Government Election results. It was also the same night I was informed that Matthew Boyd, Rachel Kobylas and Twana Pinskey were going to be the individuals traveling with me.

April 28 was the first day we received vital information on our trip. An email that included the recommended shots for the trip to Guatemala. The shots themselves put me over budget from the initial $500, but I thought I would hold on for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

We received our flight information on May 6, and finally had a meeting on May 13. We were informed about traveling insurance, which made the original $500 quote seem minimal to what I actually had invested. After my shots, this insurance, and deposit of airlines, I had $970 into this trip.

A lot of safety questions were being asked, at the time massacres were happening to U.S. citizens in the country, among others. A strong push was presented to those who were coordinating the event, including a meeting demanding the answers to our questions and information about a safety plan and contact information in case something were to happen to us.

However, we still had no clue who we were housing with. Less than a week from departure, most of our questions had finally been somewhat answered.

After all of this hassle, we finally boarded the plane for a trip of a life time. We spent the first day in the skies. We had dinner with our hosts and found out what students we were being housed with.  I had the honor of staying with Edgardo Juarez, who is an agricultural studies student.

The second day, I helped Juarez with some minimal chores and we made our way to the school farm. We experienced their livestock production practices.

For lunch we experienced fast food, Guatemala style. The Guatemala based company, Pollo Campero. We finished the night with a tour of the town.

We had the opportunity to travel to Honduras and seem some ancient ruins. I never imagined I would ever have climbed a volcano, however the opportunity occurred and I even swam in the lagoon that was formed on the top.

Near the end of our stay in Chiquimula, we had the opportunity to travel the Rio Dulce via boat and venture into the Caribbean Sea. We learned about the conservative efforts that are in place to keep both locations beautiful and clean.

On the last day, I spent most of the time with my host, where I had the opportunity to tour an Ostrich farm, ride a horse, which I strongly believe are smaller than ours.  I also served as a special guest at the graduation ceremony at CUNORI.

Johnathon Brewer on a horse Photo Credit Edgardo Juarez

Johnathon Brewer on a horse Photo Credit Edgardo Juarez

The traveling opportunities on this trip taught me a lot about the southern climate and a different way of life. The greater message I perceived on this trip was to ask questions before hand. Knowing too much information is a better scenario to be in then not knowing enough.

Thank you to those who were involved in providing this opportunity on campus. Hopefully future trips will be smoother in the planning stages, and more precise on their estimated travel expenses.

Jonathon Brewer

Guest Writer

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