September 26, 2017

When Asking Questions Indicate Courage and Hope

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This blog was written by Walking Together Learning Leader Diane Stronks who is working with co-leader Roy van Eerden and key Guatemalan educators as part of the Vision for Christ-Centred Education - Guatemala Walking Together project.

Today in Guatemala, Roy and I had the pleasure of visiting schools that are working under the umbrella of AMG Guatemala (Advancing the Ministy of the Gospel).  We travelled for more than an hour outside of Guatemala City to visit "La Vista" Christian School; "Marantha" Christian School and finally "Santa Maria" School of Technology.  

All three schools were unique but I want to take some time to describe our last school visit at "Santa Maria."  You will see beautiful pictures of the school but what I have also included is a picture of what is across the road...one of Central America's biggest dumps.  "Santa Maria" is a school for older students who had not had the opportunity to attend elementary school.  The school ministers to the most vulnerable young people whose lives have had any level of violence, dysfunction and brokenness.  The school's goal is to introduce Christ and His Gospel as well as to catch these students up by grouping them by ability.  

These students' parents work in the dump and in many respects, these students and their parents did not think it was possible to dream or to imagine their life any differently.  What "Santa Maria" has done is remarkable.  As we moved from classsroom to classroom, we were invited to talk about Canada and the work that EduDeo was doing.  Then came the questions...where did we live in Canada?  What were we doing here in Guatemala?  Were we enjoying our time?  Wasn't Canada rated number one in the world as a good place to live? Does Canada and its cities experience violence, street gangs and brokenness?  What is the weather like?  Why would anyone want to live in place where there is snow and ice?  Why did we come to work with AMG?  What could we bring to training and teaching their teachers?

The students were genuinely interested, and both Roy and I were amazed by the types of questions they asked.  We hoped that we did not offend or say the wrong thing.  Our AMG hosts, Ruth and Nico, were proud of the students, mainly because of the change that they have seen in them.  When visitors came a few years ago, the students wouldn't meet their gaze or ask a question, but now they were confident, engaging and interested.  

In Canada, we just assume that asking questions is part of our way of being and doing things.  Jesus certainly asked his fair share of questions when engaging his disciples and the people around him.  Having the courage to ask questions was beautiful to witness.  

Our main question to each of the groups of students that we met was "What do you hope for in the future?"  and "What do you hope to 'be'?"  Again, these students who at one time would have no hope for a different future than their parents or even worse - get involved in the violence of gangs - told us that they hoped to be dentists and doctors and chefs and mechanics and lawyers and judges....

Hope is such a precious thing!  We were grateful to witness the hope of these beautiful young people

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