Rotarians Visit Guatemala on Insight Trip

Evergreen Rotarians Ron Larson, Gretchen MacArthur, and Al Steger along with South Jeffco Rotarian Sue Davis and spouses recently returned from an insight trip to observe firsthand the work of Asociacion Estrella de Mar in Guatemala.  Estrella de Mar, the Guatemala affiliate of Starfish One-by-One, has been operating since 2007 to improve the lives of young Mayan women near Lake Atitlan in the Guatemala highlands.
 
The group began the journey in Antigua, the old Spanish colonial capital of Guatemala, for a few days of relaxation before journeying to Panajachel on the shores of the lake.  While in Antigua, they were briefed by Travis Ning, the Executive Director of Starfish One-by-One and son of Evergreen Rotarian and founder Ted Ning and his wife Connie, who met up with the group in Panajachel.
While in Panajachel, the Rotarians participated in a number of activities designed to showcase the work of Estrella de Mar, including a visit to the new Impact School where they had lunch with a select group of the students.  The Impact school is a secondary school (grades 7 through 12) run by educators who are 95 percent Mayan from the villages they serve.  The school is in a temporary location in Panajachel while a new school is being built in Solola, about 15 miles to the north.  Eventually, the school will have about 300 students.
 
The majority of time on the trip was focused on the university studies program.  There are currently 31 students on university scholarships funded by the Quetzal University Fund, which was established in 2015 for that purpose.  The Rotarians visited the homes of two of the students where they met and interacted with the girls and their families.   They also visited with several of the girls at Rafael Landivar University in Quetzaltenango (Xela).  They finished the trip by participating in a monthly meeting with 30 of the university students, where the girls shared their experiences in the program and their visions for their future.
 
The highlight of the trip undoubtedly occurred when the Rotarians had a chance to meet the girls they sponsor in the program.  Each of the four Rotarians is funding the education of one or more of these amazing young women, and it was heartwarming to see firsthand the difference their contributions are making in the lives of these future leaders in their communities.