This past March, five students from the Ross S. Sterling High School Key Club in Baytown, Texas, journeyed to Guatemala with Key Club partner Squads Abroad. On this trip — the first for this new partnership — the student volunteers were tasked with constructing a hand-washing station and teaching elementary students proper hygiene techniques, specifically in hand washing. The Squads Abroad project was held at Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta Aldea Panimacoc, and the Key Clubbers raised funds to pay for some of the supplies needed for the construction project. Ross S. Sterling High School Key Club President Priscila Garcia, a senior, coordinated efforts with her school, Squads Abroad and the Kiwanis Club of Baytown to make the trip a reality. Here’s what she says about the experience:

“Going to Guatemala over spring break was an experience of a lifetime. I had so much fun spending time at the school where my friends and I were helping, as well as learning about and indulging in the Guatemalan culture. It was really cool to help build a hand-washing station for the elementary school students and to see their way of doing things. We had to mix our own cement, lay down bricks by hand, and we did lots and lots of shoveling. It was honestly really fun, and I felt good about doing something that was benefiting the community. On top of that, we got to spend time with adorable kids when we went to their classrooms and taught them how to properly wash their hands. My favorite part was definitely connecting with the kids during recess. All they wanted to do was play! Watching them smile and laugh while jumping rope, playing soccer or running around for tag was super heartwarming. Besides spending time at the school, we also got to learn about the indigenous Mayan language, Kaqchikel, experience the traditional way to make pottery, tour the Mayan ruins of Iximche, and walk the streets of the beautiful tourist city of Antigua. Spending time in a country rich in culture and character was the best way I could’ve ever spent my spring break.”

~ Priscila Garcia