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Ian Zimmermann

24 Apr 2010 On things I will miss and things I won’t

As my time in Nebaj quickly comes to an end – just 4 short days until I leave – I’m left forced to think about the upcoming transition back into my old life. Call it reverse culture-shock or what you will, many basic things will be substantially different that what I’ve grown accustomed to. So I’ve been reminiscing about my Guatemalan life, the positives and negatives – those things I’ve enjoyed and those I haven’t. I think I can do my best to distill the differences that exist between my lives in Guatemala and New Hampshire into three main categories: things I will definitely miss about Nebaj/Guatemala, things that I will be more than happy to do without, and things that I am still unsure about. Without further ado, I present my list. Things I will miss: Corn tortillas – Without having spent time in Central America, I don’t think that it’s possible to grasp how much a part of the diet tortillas are. I eat probably 5 per day, but god, they’re so good. And it’s a safe bet that the flour tortillas of the pseudo-Mexican restaurants of Keene, New Hampshire (sorry Armadillo’s, Margarita’s) will not be able to fill the corn tortillas void sure to exist in my stomach and heart. Things I will miss: My Guatemalan family – As an only child, it remained something of a personal test to see if I could successfully assimilate into a family of 8. Resoundingly, I can. Hands down, there is nothing in this country that I could possibly miss more than Helen, Fredi, Jacinto, Vicente, Maria, Rosa, Catarina, and Elena.
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09 Mar 2010 Spanish Language Milestone

Not a doubt in the world, my Spanish language abilities have improved dramatically since arriving in Guatemala a little over five months ago. But occasionally, I still think “god, I’ve been in this country for so long, yet there are so many words I simply...

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26 Feb 2010 Education in Nebaj

Ed-u-ca-tion -noun the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life. Studying in school does not make a person “educated.” As Laura mentioned this week, the Guatemalan government doesn’t...

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12 Jan 2010 El café

Of all the possible skills I thought I might be able to learn while living in Guatemala, using an espresso machine never ranked very high. But that is where expectations could be deceiving. Helen, another volunteer with Soluciones Comunitarias in Nebaj, brought a small espresso machine...

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12 Jan 2010 Coffee in Guatemala

Of all the possible skills I thought I might be able to learn while living in Guatemala, using an espresso machine never ranked very high. But that is where expectations could be deceiving.Helen, another volunteer with Soluciones Comunitarias in Nebaj, brought a small espresso machine...

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22 Dec 2009 Malnutrition and Education in Guatemala

This post by Fellow, Ian Zimmermann has been cross-posted from the Current TV News Blog. Q: What are you first impressions? How does your new home compare to where you live in the US? What an amazing place! I grew up in a small New England town, so in terms of the number of people here, it’s certainly nothing too overwhelmingly different; that said, it can be impossible to find certain things here. Want to buy some peanuts? Too bad – you have to travel an hour and a half to find any. I honestly had no idea that there exist people this friendly! Everyone wants to say buenos dias to you and start a conversation. One huge pro of there being very little to actually do here is that human relationships end up being valued above all else. Q: What are some of the local issues facing the community you’re in? Lack of educational opportunities must be the most pressing concern here. Only last year did Nebaj – a community of over 20,000 – open its doors to the first free public basico (roughly junior high). If a student decides to go on for a diversificado (high school diversification), the options that exist are limited to three professions: a banker (impractical because there are only two banks in the city), a college track (impractical to most because there are no universities within an hour), or a teacher (the only profession in which it is possible to find work). Looking outside of Nebaj into the surrounding communities, one of the biggest problems is malnutrition. Beans, rice, and tortillas are great and all – but they frankly don’t make up a balanced diet. In an attempt to raise awareness to this issue, one of our projects is to begin a vegetable garden with kids at a community center called El Centro Explorativo in La Pista. We hope this project will lead families to start their own vegetable gardens as a means for which to improve the local diet.
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17 Dec 2009 Perroquia/Las Pacayas

One of our major projects in Guatemala is to support Soluciones Comunitarias, an NGO which trains Guatemalans to sell health related products such as reading glasses, water purifiers, and vegetable seeds. This week, we spent two (long) days traveling around northern Quiche and I produced...

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