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Paz a través de mis ojos (Peace Through My Eyes), Verena Bunge & Elana Hazghia’s 2009 Project for Peace

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If only there were words to describe how the exhibit went!   “Success”  just does not do any justice to the event and our entire experience in San Marcos.  The kids all arrived promptly at 6:00 at Paco Real and the tourists and locals started to flood in from there.  We were estimating a grand total of about ten people to attend if we were lucky, but the place was packed!  Paul, the owner of Paco Real expressed to us earlier that usually “non-gringo” locals such as our students never step foot into his restaurant and we were very excited to see all different kinds of people interact at the exhibit.

The kids were proud to be the “fotógrafos famosos” for the night.  Locals and tourists came up to them just to tell them how incredible their works were and their faces immediately lit up from their praises (lets just hope the fame doesn’t get to their heads).

We were happy to have some of their family members come to the exhibition as well.  They expressed their gratitude and how much their brothers and sisters enjoyed the program.  It was great to know that their families were so supportive throughout the whole process.  Some of the kids expressed to us that their families were right behind them every step of the way making sure they stayed on top of their work and stayed dedicated to the project.  And their hard work really showed–some of the tourists thought that we took the photos and it took them a couple of minutes to realize that all of the photos were taken by the kids.  Those who came to the exhibition seemed extremely interested in the program.  What’s so great about San Marcos is that there is a strong sense of community.  Of course there are those locals who don’t like that there are so many tourists in the village, but most people love that there’s so much interaction (whether it be through business, volunteer programs, Spanish lessons, etc.) between the different groups of people.  But for the most part, foreigners that have settled down in San Marcos have made great efforts to respect the locals and engage in multiple community service projects.  Everything just came together perfectly last night.  We will be leaving some of the photos with Paul and Kathy who will hang the pieces up in their restaurants and continue to sell for us.  We can’t thank them enough for everything they have done for us!

Luckily “los famosos” made it to class this morning after their big night out.  We took the time to interview some kids and print out some photos that they recently took of their families.  We also surprised them by printing out a bunch of pictures that they took in the past three weeks to put in their photo albums.  The kids seemed a little upset that the program was coming to an end but we made a little deal with them.  We left some cameras with Paul of Paco Real and he will “rent out” the cameras to the kids for the day.  We told them that if we raise enough money, we will hire a local photographer to keep the program going so that they can continue to develop their skills.  The three weeks flew by and we only scratched the surface of their incredible potential as artists and photographers.  Although verbal expression isn’t really their forté, some of their expressed their gratitude through letters and one girl even made personalized weaving for us! (it was adorable, we’re keeping them forever).  They are all wonderful kids who grew incredibly attached to the program, and we hope that we can find the means to continue their studies in photography.

So what now?  The program in San Marcos ended, but this is only the beginning my friends.  The American School just finished up their program as well and another school in Guatemala City expressed so much interest in the program that they will be starting a similar program as well in July.  The exhibit in San Marcos was unexpected and went so well that we’re thinking of putting together an additional exhibit in Guatemala City.  The exhibit in Saratoga Springs is still on for the fall and now it’s just a matter of printing, printing, printing an exhibiting.  We were blown away by their works and we can’t wait for all of you to see the final products!

Stay tuned for more updates on the kids in Guatemala City, as well as a potential mural project with the City and San Marcos kids!

We said this earlier in the post, but there really are no words to describe how well everything went in San Marcos.  We were both literally speechless by the end of the night.

THANK YOU THANK YOU to every single person that has supported us (friends, families, teachers and program directors in San Marcos and Guatemala City, all of our professors and advisors at Skidmore, Kathryn Wasserman Davis, etc.)  We were so lucky to have everything fall into place so well and for that reason we’ve really become attached to San Marcos and all of the other towns we visited on the lake (we’re still pretty partial to San Marcos though).  San Marcos is really a hidden treasure with incredible people and the potential to grow with the right kind of help.

Hasta pronto!

V&E

p.s. Remember, we’re not done…keep reading!

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