May brought rain, new experiences, and naturally, some challenges. The countryside has returned to beautiful, lush, green dips and hills. And flowers are blossoming everywhere. It’s as if spring is just beginning here.

The classes with the children continue to go swimmingly (well), but the groups of teenagers have been more than inconsistent. Throughout my teaching experiences, discipline has been a big challenge for me. I wonder if I haven’t put my foot down hard enough with some of the young people who still miss classes, arrive late, or have completely stop coming altogether. One of these groups was mostly made up of teens whose parents were really the ones who encouraged them to go. There were some breakthrough moments with these kids (the light bulb moment, as they say), but I had a hard time motivating them to practice and study what they were seeing in my class. When a student is in your class because of their own desire to learn, the enthusiasm is clear and it’s a completely different dynamic. This was a group I started with from zero English and I was extremely excited about learning with them. I have another group of adolescents, who already having gotten over the hump (those first sometimes painfully confusing steps of learning a new language), continue to move forward and practically devour the new material we see.

Hormiguero Ruins

Where’s Laura? Hormiguero Ruins after dark

My stay here in Xpujil is coming to a close, so I’m on a mission to see as much of this remarkable corner of the universe as I can in these last days! A few weeks ago, I went camping outside of the Hormiguero ruins. The dark masses of the Mayan structures rising with the backdrop of constellations and planets is a powerful sight. And this is normal life in Calakmul!

Between the connections with students, friends, and nature of course, being here has had a strong effect on me. I feel stronger in my independence than before I came here and independence was not something I was lacking in. But perhaps the strongest change I feel is a clearer interpretation of the balance between what we give and what we can get back in this life.

Laura Gilchrist

June 7th, 2017 View Profile

Calakmul, Campeche, spring 2017