Laura Keaton

I want to become more confident about the way I see the world and what I can do to change it. I want to show other people that what I do this year is something they can do too.


Full Circle!

The first blog post that I wrote for Global Citizen Year was one that I thought about for a long time  before writing. It was maybe the hardest post that I ever had to write because I wasn’t yet even out of the gate, and it was difficult for me to figure out how to relate Global…

11 July, 2010

Old School Google (Pronounced “Goo-Glay”)

On Wednesday afternoon my sister left North Carolina headed for Germany, and on Thursday I read about the cloud of volcanic ash that a certain volcano in the land of Ice is spewing out, wreaking havoc on air travel in Europe. As it turns out, my sister is now stranded in London, but is taking…

26 April, 2010

Looking Forward

Josefina and Omar never cease to amaze me. Tonight at dinner while eating carrot cake that I made with Fina, she told Omar: “Hey listen, I said to Laura the other day, I said: Don’t be jealous of the students that are coming for the summer program, even though they’re going to be staying in…

23 April, 2010

The View

The fellows now have just 2 short weeks left in-country. It seems unreal, because before I began my Global Citizen Year, my longest-ever vacation hadn’t even been that long. (It clocked in at 12 days.) Strange to think of my “closing time” as longer than any previous beginning, middle, AND end of a trip combined….

15 April, 2010

Green Thumbs Up

In November, I came up with the idea to start a “square-foot garden” in one of my schools with the help of the mothers group. I thought it would be a good idea because the school gathers donations of vegetables every week to give them and the garden would be a simple and self-sustained way…

02 April, 2010


Dear Mrs. Rasnick, Do you remember my peculiar Drama I class? You said it was peculiar because for the most part our class was not in Drama because we wanted to learn about the origins of theater, Thespes and the like. We were in Drama because we wanted to play games. I am writing today…

02 April, 2010

Family Resemblance

“Canche! Que bonita su hija Fina!” Fina and I are standing outside the tortilleria, my absolute favorite spot in Santo Tomas. The woman speaking has coarse gray hair and dark wrinkled skin. I might say she is in her mid 70s judging by her looks but she’s probably around 60, and her agility reinforces that…

03 April, 2010

Lazy Sunday

It’s Sunday afternoon, and Fina and I are walking up the street toward her sister Gloria’s house in Magdalena, the next town over. We decided to get out of the house because we were bored. The street is angled upward and it seems that it disappears into thin air at the top where Gloria’s flowers…

23 March, 2010

The Trash-Tossing Tarnish

The other day I took a seat on the bus next to an old grandmother. She was snacking on some chips, and when she finished the bag, she promptly balled it up and threw it out the window. I was taken aback. It seemed to me like at home the old grandmothers would be the…

01 March, 2010

Trying to Teach

Before I came to Guatemala, I was of the opinion that education was the best route for social development. I still think that, but I have seen through my experience with schools in both the private and public sector that education needs great support to function effectively and that finding that support can be extremely…

22 February, 2010

Finding Their Voice

On Friday and Saturday, the Antigua fellows and Ximena went on a combination vision campaign/ training session with Yoly (Marguerite‘s host-mom) and Clara Luz, two regional coordinators at Soluciones Comunitarias. The training of the new “asesoras” (community “advisors”, or women entrepreneurs) began on Friday. We were trying to fit the training all into one day…

12 February, 2010

Shoes. OMG, Shoes.

Laura Keaton tells of her journey to an actual Payless Shoe Store in Guatemala.

22 January, 2010

Out of the Blue

When I arrived at the bus stop today coming home from Antigua, I discovered that it was raining. It had been cloudy all day, but I didn’t expect actual water to fall. What made this occurrence of precipitation right in the middle of the dry season even more strange, was that it was the second…

03 January, 2010

Learning the Language

Several days ago I had one of those sudden moments of insight into the workings of my mind that shocked me and excited me at the same time. I was with Fina and her sister Irma, recounting the tale of the neck-walking “grio” (that would be a HUGE brown grasshopper, bigger than my thumb, and…

30 December, 2009

Hot Tamale Maker

Tamales are the traditional Christmas food in Guatemala. You make a huge batch and send some home with all your family members and friends that come visiting. It’s a great gift; They’re even wrapped like little presents! And yesterday I had the privilege of learning how to make these corn-based parcels of joy. I got…

23 December, 2009

Challenges facing my new home in Guatemala

(Cross-posted from the Current TV News Blog) Read on Current HERE My first impression of Guatemala was that the place I was living in was not “rural” as I had expected because everything in the little town in which I live is concrete and cinder block. There’s an internet café, and buses thundering past all…

17 December, 2009

“Welcoming the Christmas Season” or, “Pyromania”

On December 7, 2009 at 6 pm Guatemalans and gringos alike began the official Christmas season with a daring display of pyrotechnics in the traditional “quema del diablo” or “burning of the devil.” Looming large and leering demonically near the entrance of Antigua proper, a statue of a devil was perched on a base of…

08 December, 2009

El Duque

The Salazar-Che family (my family) has a Toyota truck. I couldn’t tell you what year or model, but I think its unique enough that none of these labels matter anyway. It’s comparatively small in size from what most would today consider a “truck”, what with all the insinuations that if it doesn’t have a trillion…

01 December, 2009

Sweet (Potato) Success

Luis thoughtfully planned for all the fellows to have Thanksgiving dinner together in Nebaj, and invited us all to bring a dish to share. I decided immediately to bring sweet potato casserole. It seemed that the fates were in support of this decision, because when I got home that day I found a huge bucket…

01 December, 2009

Mama Fina

Yesterday morning when I was leaving the house, I said goodbye to my host-mom, “Mama Fina”, and gave her a kiss on the cheek– the traditional greeting and farewell here in Guatemala– when she stopped me and said, “I already love you a lot.” I, so pleased to hear that, tried to blubber out “Ohmigod,…

25 November, 2009

Laundry Day

Today marks the day I became a self-sufficient human Laundromat. And let me tell you, I have definitely been taking my washing machine & dryer for granted the past 18 years. There’s a whole process that involves pouring water on your clothes, then soap, then scrubbing, flipping, and turning the clothes in side out while…

13 November, 2009

El Dia de Los Difuntos

On Sunday, while my host parents Josefina and Omar went to the community cemetery to decorate the graves of their parents with the wreaths I helped them make, I went with the other fellows to a town called Santiago, famous for its huge kite festival. Upon arriving, we walked about 2 miles down a street…

03 November, 2009

Ay! Mi Zapato! Lo Siento!!!

Today was the first day I played soccer in Guatemala. It was an impromptu game after we visited our town’s public school this afternoon, and I was wearing tight jeans and ballet flats that flop off when I’m simply walking, so I felt quite disadvantaged…but excited none the less. It was Luis, Miguel (or Michael,…

14 October, 2009

Dear Sir, I Concur

I just read Alec’s post “Sodoku?!” and I must say that I have had the same experience here in Guatemala! The first night that I stayed in my homestay we watched The Fast & The Furious on TV. Though I had known my family for only a few hours, we chuckled at the same parts….

13 October, 2009

Happy Birthday To You…

Today was our first day in Guatemala. Already I feel a warm spot in my heart opening up to embrace this place! I must admit though, that I was finally able to name the fear that has been lurking behind all the excitement and euphoria of the last 12 days, and that fear is the…

03 October, 2009

I Can’t Believe I Wrote That.

Today Tori Hogan was here at Ions leading a session on Media Training during which we discussed filming, photographing, and blogging about our experiences in the coming year. Tori asked who among us had prior experience in any of these arenas and it caused me to remember that in middle school I actually did have…

29 September, 2009

Father Knows Best

Tonight the fellows had one of our bi-montly conference calls that we use to check in with one another and talk about the latest and greatest news. This evening we had the pleasure and privilege of having documentary film-maker and “citizen journalist” Tori Hogan on the line to tell us some of what she encountered in…

13 August, 2009

The Hardest Part… Yet

When I applied to this program I knew I would be branching far out from what my other friends will be doing this coming year in college. Of course, I was excited to think of all the real world skills I would gain that could never be learned in a classroom. Learning a language by…

08 August, 2009

Between You, Me, and the Wall

Recently, I spent the week at my grandmother’s house in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. My Mama Shirley asked me if I would please finish the rock wall she had started to build around her new garden. I saw the faintest trace of the path she had taken into the woods in her initial foray…

28 July, 2009

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Laura Keaton