Finding our voices (and purpose) in Panajxit, Guatemala.

By Posted in - Central America & Travel Blog on December 19th, 2012

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We’re on Day 3 of our special Guatemala Week here at Beers & Beans. Enjoy!

As our shuttle van bounced along the misty mountain roads to Panajxit, I sat in the very back, writing feverishly, scratching out lines and adding in new ones, as I prepared my speech for the students, parents and teachers at Panajxit Elementary School, where we would participate in a computer lab inauguration with Cooperative for Education.

Pulling into the parking lot, I got a little taste of what it must have been like to be Mick Jagger in the 60’s. Young children stood around the grassy lot to greet us with smiles and cheers. As I made my way into the crowd, I stuffed my notebook into my back pocket and walked with some of the children into the large courtyard that had been prepared for our arrival.

Above Photos: Students at Panajxit came out to greet us when we arrived at the school.

Now I may have felt like a Rolling Stone for a second there, but I knew deep down I didn’t have moves like Jagger. See when I speak in front of a crowd, I can do pretty well if I can read off a PowerPoint presentation or work from my memory. However, when I have to hold a piece of paper or note card, my hand starts shaking uncontrollably. It starts off slight at first, but as soon as I notice it, the shaking increases and there’s nothing I can do to make it stop, even though I’m really not even that nervous.

Waiting for my turn to take center stage during the presentation ceremony, I went over my speech several times, trying my best to memorize it and curb the use of my note cards. A few minutes later, I was in front of the children and everything just seemed to flow out naturally with only minimal shaking. It didn’t hurt that I had the help of Gina Lieser, a development assistant with CoEd, by my side translating my speech into Spanish.

Above Photos: Randy is about to take the stage in front of the other volunteers and the 189 students at the school. Randy does a great job inspiring the kids at the school. Later on a father of one of the students and a student give their own moving speeches.

Following the speech, I was on Cloud 9. This was the first time I ever spoke in front of school children and it was great to see their enthusiasm (unlike my high school and college peers), especially because my speech was centered around the importance of computer education, something Beth and I are both very passionate about.

After the ceremony, several school children invited a few of our volunteers on to the paved soccer field for a friendly game of Mayan-style football. Dressed in traditional outfits, the boys demonstrated the game, which centered around the players using their knees to move a small ball into the opposing goal. The children were impressive; though, I have to say our group of volunteers did a really nice job of picking up the game quickly.

Above Photos: The students play an ancient game and invite some volunteers to play with them. Surprisingly, the volunteers did a really good job right off the bat!

After the presentation ceremony and the 5,000-year-old sporting match we participated in the official inauguration of the Panajxit Cooperative School’s computer center. After an official ribbon cutting, we went into the lab where we each paired up with a student and explored some of the educational software on their workstation.

Above Photos: One of the main reasons we went to Panajxit was to inaugurate their new computer lab. There was a lot of excitement from the students, the parents, teachers & volunteers. When the inauguration was complete we were able to sit with the students and learn about their lives while we shared stories about our families and homes.

Beth and I were so moved by the buzz in the center we decided to sponsor two more PC workstations for the Panajxit lab. We both feel that the computers are one of the great equalizers of our society and couldn’t imagine these children not having access to modern technology like we had growing up. These students are our future and we can’t wait to see what they create!

If you are new to our blog please see below for information on how you can donate to this great cause and enter in our Guatemala raffle giveaway! Also, stay tuned because tomorrow we will have a personal photo essay of the new friends we met at the Panaxjit school!

Just in case this is the first time you are hearing about our fundraising campaign, I’ve included the details below about how you can get involved, including info about the prize pack we are giving away to one lucky person!

How it works:

It’s very easy. Make a $15 donation and get an entry into the raffle for the prize pack! Do you want more than 1 entry into the raffle? All you need to do is make a larger donation. Easy as pie! 100% of your donation goes directly to the two computer workstations we are funding at Panajxit. The donations are also a tax write off for U.S. citizens!

  • $15 Donation = 1 entry
  • $25 Donation = 2 entries
  • $50 Donation = 4 Entries
  • $100 Donation = 10 entries
  • $250 Donation = 18 entries
  • $500 Donation = 36 entries
  • $1,000 Donation = 75 entries
  • $2,000 Donation = If you donate $2,000 we’ll give you a prize pack of your very own!

Each entry earned gives you a chance to win the the Travel Fun Pack!

The Gift Pack Includes:

  • 1 $25 Amex Gift Card
  • 1 $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • 1 $25 Itunes Gift Card
  • 1 Adventurer’s Travel Journal Pack By Earmark
  • 1 Free Download of Getting Out Of Auto
  • 1 Safety Whistle from Tom Bihn
  • 1 Tom Bihn Packing Cube Backpack

Total Prize Pack is worth $165 and the winner takes all!

How Do You Enter?

It’s easy! Just click the DONATE NOW button below or you can click on the green widget on our sidebar to make your donation. Either way will bring you to Razoo which is where we have decided to host our fundraising efforts. Why did we pick Razoo? Well if we can get enough donations quickly then we will be showcased on their homepage, which will let even more people know about CoEd and our mission to fund two computer labs!

Is There A deadline?

Yes there is! We are trying to raise $2,000 by midnight on Dec. 31, 2012. We know it’s a short amount of time but we really want to make these computer stations a reality for the start of the new year. Plus, it will be a great way for all of us to bring in 2013 knowing that we just made a huge difference in the lives of these beautiful children!

How Will We Choose The Winner?

We will write your name on a slip of paper for each entry into the raffle. As soon as we raise the $2,000, Randy will complete an exuberant one man Polar Plunge into the great and incredibly cold Atlantic Ocean! After he runs back to the beach and draw a name out of a hat (we’ll bring it with us to the beach). We’ll be filming the Polar Plunge and name draw on video and then post it on our site to announce the winner! Good Luck!

Please consider making a donation to this very worthy cause today and earn a chance to win a fabulous prize pack at the same time! If a donation simply isn’t in the cards this year, please share this page with your friends, family, coworkers and neighbors so they can learn about CoEd and perhaps join in the raffle themselves! If you are interested in learning more about Cooperative for Education and the work they do please feel free to visit the CoEd website!


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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!

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(4) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Raymond @ Man On The Lam -

    December 19, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Great cause and great work that you are involved in! Hopefully you meet your target!

    • Randy -

      December 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      @Raymond @ Man On The Lam, Thanks Raymond! We’re excited to be able to help out some great kids as well as a phenomenal organization. Thanks so much for stopping by to check out the story and sharing it around. Happy Holidays!

  • Andi of My Beautiful Adventures -

    December 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    You guys rock for doing this!!! Happy Holidays!

    • Randy -

      December 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      @Andi of My Beautiful Adventures, No, no, no Andi, it’s you who rocks! Thanks so much for all the support you’ve shown. It really means a lot! 🙂