Thursday, November 12, 2009

What I Love - Day 5

I fell in love with Guatemala 16 years ago when I first stepped foot in the country. It left an imprint on my heart and, at the time, I really wasn't sure exactly why I felt this incredibly strong connection to Guatemala. But, I left the country in tears at the age of 19, knowing I would be back someday. Jason and I had only been dating for a few months at that time, but I knew he would be coming back with me. This was one thing I knew for SURE, with every fiber of my being. Little did I realize at the time what that really meant! I had no idea that Guatemala would be a source of life for our family.

Adopting internationally not only united us with our son, but also with a country, a culture, a new view of the world and our place in it. It is life changing to experience another culture, especially one that is so completely different than our own and in a third world country. The experience of being in a different culture combined with the experience of adoption enabled us to step back and view our lives through a different lens. To take stock, in a sense. Our fight and struggle to have a family and our journey across the boundaries of country and culture, embedded a deep appreciation and perspective on what is really important in life. It shapes how we think and see the world now and it has inspired us to be more giving in many ways, affecting so much of what we do. Having this connection makes the world feel so much smaller and makes it feel like what we all do as individuals and communities really does matter.

This year, Jason decided to carry some of these life lessons into his classroom in his attempt to develop his curriculum around character education and giving back. Jason teaches high school special education in a struggling, urban school with kids who often do not feel deserving of an education or feel like they have anything to contribute to society. Jason decided to involve the kids in a project to sponsor a student through Safe Passages in Guatemala. Click HERE to check out Safe Passages. What started out as a seemingly ambitious project has turned into a life changing experience for some of his students. Jason was able to have his students participate in a video conference (along with some other US & Canadian high schools) with a school in San Marcos, Guatemala. His students were able to interact directly with students in Guatemala and learn more about their life. After the video conference, Jason showed the movie, Recycled Life, which is an award winning documentary about the people who live and work in the Guatemala City Dump. (Click HERE to watch a trailer of the documentary. It is worth 2 minutes of your time.)The impact on these kids has been astounding and they have suddenly developed ownership over this project. Jason told me he has never seen his students work so hard. He has never seen his students work so well together, as a team, for a common goal. He has never seen his students have so much purpose and feel like what they are doing matters. Isn't that amazing and inspiring? Here are a couple pictures of their growing project that Jason took with his phone.



Obviously, their project has nothing to do with adoption, but I love that our adoption has opened our world and has influenced so much of what we do and how we live our lives. I love that adoption can bring people together across cultures, class, race, ethnicity, and more to make us all feel more connected rather than divided.


Arena Mom said...

Love it! I have the GC Dump movie and it is so sobering. What great causes to give back to and teach kids about!

I didn't know you had been to Guatemala prior to Pea!

Gardenia said...

so beautiful how a trip to Guatemala 16 years ago could influence all these life changing events, not only in your life, but in your husband's too, and then in the lives of his students. It's a rolling ball, making its imprint and getting larger and large the more it rolls and picks up momentum. like the ripple effect, only more awesome when it transforms lives!!! thanks for this post. I'd love to hear more as his students' projects continue.

Lund7 said...

That was a beautiful post. It's interesting how God uses events in our past to shape us into who we are today.

Just curious what you were first in Guatemala for?

Donna said...

WOW!!! Phenominal! Yay for those kids and yay for Jason for coming up with "non-conventional" teaching programs! (I'm singing Lion King's the Circle of Life!)

I don't think that I knew you went to Guatemala before - how amazing! What an great connection. Gary and I have started talking about going back again - to build stoves. It's on my mind everyday!

Kim said...

WOW! What a moving post! Thanks so much for sharing. Makes you wonder how much better a place this world would be if each of us helped someone less fortunate than ourselves.

Bobbi said...

I think this has everything to do with adoption. We too are very involved with Safe Passage!!! It is a wonderful organization. It is something that we bring to our own adopted children. A sense of giving back to their birth country. Way to go Jason!!! Sounds like a great lesson for the kids

The gFamily said...

Way to go Jason!!! That is awesome and what has impacted your lives so much is now influencing students in a positive way!!! I love it!

Guatemala has certainly opened up our view of the world, and I love how it has changed and impacted our family! We will never be the same and it is good!!