Happy Poetry Friday! Mr. Linky has kindly volunteered to help with the round-up this week. Please leave your links in the form at the end of this post.
November was an exciting month for me. My husband and I went on a service-learning trip to the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala with a group from our temple. We have not travelled a lot, and we have never had an experience remotely like this before. I admit to being nervous before the trip–I was worried about being overwhelmed or depressed by the poverty. I was concerned that I would not be able to communicate with people with my almost non-existent knowledge of Spanish. And I did not want to feel like a rich American who had come to swoop in and solve problems that I knew little about.
But my concerns were unfounded. Guatemala is a place of amazing beauty. And while the poverty is severe, the people we met did not act downtrodden or depressed. In fact, the children of these families were cheerful and eager to join in on our projects. I hope we contributed in some small way to improving the lives of a few families. I know I gained immensely from the experience.
Our group worked primarily with two Guatemalan organizations: The Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP) and Mayan Families. One of IMAP’s main goals is to create food sovereignty with organic gardens that preserve Mayan seed banks and promote biodiversity. We helped put in a garden for a single mom and her children who lived in a community built after the 2005 hurricane displaced indigenous farmers from their land. It was amazing to see the change in the family’s small yard–and wonderful to see how the kids jumped in to dig and plant (by the second day 13-year old Lesley had decided that she was going to be a gardener when she grows up.) We worked on several projects with Mayan Families, including building a chicken coop for a single mom and her 10 children (who lived in three rooms with a leaky tin roof.) The oldest son works as a builder’s assistant and was enamored with the power tools that the group had brought. The younger kids jumped in with hammering and painting. We also built stoves for families that had previously used open flames for cooking.
I’ve whittled down my 1000 photos from the trip to a not-quite-manageable number. Here are a few of my favorites, and a draft of a poem inspired by the experience.
Eight Days in Guatemala
A hoe, a rake,
new skills to learn–
we plant, we grow,
we reap in turn.
With hammer and nails
with wood and scraps,
we join and build,
we bridge our gaps.
A gesture, a smile,
to give, to take,
with work and cheer,
new worlds to make.
–Buffy Silverman, November, 2015
49 thoughts on “It’s Poetry Friday!”
I loved your blog post, and am impressed by your hard work with helping those on the downside of advantage. The pictures touched my heart, as well as your poem.
Your pictures and poem capture an amazing experience, Buffy. Isn’t interesting that we are often profoundly changed when we try to evoke change for others? Thanks for sharing and for hosting. =)
Thank you for the pictures and your poem. Thank you for expanding our cultural experiences too. What beauty.
Buffy! If our local synagogue offered these kinds of opportunities, I’d be all in. I don’t want to be a “checkbook liberal” anymore… <3
Buffy, this post is beautiful in every way!
I love the simplicity of your poem, Buffy. I’m sure the experience will impact on your life, and those you shared with.
I hadn’t expected to post today – but I’ve slipped in late with some simple poems that I’m hoping with help with the heart poem I need to write…
What an amazing experience, Buffy. I want to be a farmer if I ever grow up. I am very moved by your photos and narrative. Your poem was also a delight. I’m a bit bashful now, to leave my autumn ode here, but nonetheless, it’s what I have this week. Peace and joy to you and thanks for hosting, Brenda
What an amazing project. Glorious pictures, too!
My selection is “Keep Climbing, Girls” by the late actor and poet Beah E. Richards with illustrations by Gregory R. Christie
WOW. Both the photographs and the poem just took me there. Thanks for sharing.
I have been to Lake Atitlan — I wish I had been working on projects like yours while I was there! Nice job with your poem. Thanks for hosting!
Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos, Buffy. What sweet, smiling faces! Your poem is *perfect* and brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful way to process and share your experience!
Thanks for hosting and for sharing a glimpse of your service trip. What a lovely gesture and amazing trip. So meaningful. And your photos and poems are a lovely way to capture a bit of that special experience!
Thanks for hosting, Buffy. Your post and photos about Guatemala are interesting, your poem inspiring! The people there must have enjoyed you immensely.
What beautiful pictures and words. Connecting is everything. Thank you for hosting Poetry Friday today. xo
Amy’s got it right: connecting is everything.
Touching poem, Buffy – glad your trip was productive and enlightening! Between the chaotic construction work going on at our house, and my 17 1/2-year-old cat dying last night, I won’t be around much…but I put together a PF post 2 days ago, which is now live. Thanks for hosting!
It has always struck me how happy the children without are…
How can you be happy without tv?
Where’s the joy without electronic games?
Why are they so eager to help in the work?
Why are their smiles so open and bright?
How much they gave you and us as seen in your photos! So happy you could do this. What a wonderful experience to hold in your heart!
That struck me, too, Donna. We have so much…and along the way, we’ve dropped some things like connecting with others and being bored and making up stuff because our arms are full of things.
Buffy, thank you so much for sharing your Guatemala experience with us! I can just imagine the kid’s eyes watching those power tools — esp. after seeing the pics of all those precious faces. Good for you, stepping out of your comfort zone. And the poem! Bridging our gaps — isn’t that the mission of mission trips?! How we can each be blessed by one another. Thank you. xo
I love the line, “we bridge our gaps.” The faces of the children say it all. I see that your trip was filled with hard work and joy. What a wonderful experience!
I will share your pictures and poem with my students today. We are just finishing up some learning about the ancient civilizations of Latin America, and I want my students to understand that these cultures/peoples aren’t dead and gone! Beautiful!
Thank you, Mary Lee–so glad that you’re going to share them! Many of the people we met spoke Kakchikel or another Mayan language (and many did not speak Spanish.) I think (hope) many are working to preserve their cultures.
Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. It sounds absolutely amazing. The photos are wonderful as is your poem. I especially appreciate your sharing some of your pre-trip concerns. I can certainly relate to those. I’d like to go on a service trip.
Thanks for sharing about your trip. The photos are beautiful. I love the poem. It seems to capture your trip in just a few descriptive words.
I messed up with Mr. Linky, it appears :•/ I’m traveling and using my iPhone so I’m going to use that as my excuse. Sorry. If you delete one, please delete the “Penny”-that’s not a lot of info :•)
Thanks for hosting.
Alas I am not clever enough to know how to unkink or unlink Mr. Linky. I hope your double link brings you twice the visitors, Penny.
Sometimes I skim the host post quickly as I leave my link and make a short comment before rushing off to school, but not today…my eye is caught by the photos and I want to come back when I have better attention to give to your experience and your poem.
See you tomorrow morning!
What an incredible experience! Your poem and pictures convey such a sense of joy and hope. Thanks so much for sharing, and thank you for hosting today!
Those pictures! I could stare at them all day. I love the clothes they wear. So colorful and beautiful. Your poem has a lovely cadence, very easy on the brain to read.
I feel fortunate to read your poem distilling the myriad of feelings & successes from the
Mayan Families & Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute experiences.
And the images swell my heart, (Is that a real animal or a soft toy bun-bun, in the lower right?
Your temple should be commended for creating this opportunity.
Also at Bookseedstudio today
the poetry topic is – Hello, it’s almost Hanukkah!
I hope you can visit, any time.
A real and well-loved bunny, Jan!
Wow Buffy. It sounds like an amazing experience and I love your photos and the poem – which seems simple but says so much with just a few words. Lovely!
Thank you for sharing this experience.
I come from a developing country (third-world country) and there is a lot of poverty and coming in contact with those less fortunate I have also come to realize that they are not necessarily in despair. A lot of them are still hopeful and are doing their best to live their lives. Your pictures show that joy in the people you met. And your poem echoes how experiences are never one sided. We may volunteer and come as somehow the helper but we come out of it equally changed.
What a wonderful experience you have shared and a perfect poem to recap. Thank you!
Welcome back! It looks and sounds like your trip was amazing. Thank you for sharing your poem.
I’m in today with an original villanelle and a recap of the Poetry Seven’s year of writing.
Thank you for hosting this shindig.
Hi, Buffy. Thank you for sharing this glimpse into your service trip. I loved seeing the photos of the children (especially with the little rabbit). Your poem whittles down the experience for us.
Today, I’m pairing a debut middle grade novel THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE with the Naomi Shihab Nye poem “One Way or Another.” The novel is about a boy who is, with his family, grieving for his mother. He and his sister are nearly swallowed up by their sense of loss, literally, in a story that blends realistic and fantasy elements. http://authoramok.blogspot.com/2015/12/lauras-bookshelf-remarkable-journey-of.html
Thank you for sharing this amazing and inspiring experience, Buffy. Life-changing in the best possible way. Your poem and photos say it all.
It sounds, and looks, like a special time on this trip, Buffy, “we bridge our gaps”. I’ve been on a few adventures with my students, and the biggest challenge to me is the language, as you shared. Hope that went well, too. You wrote a special message in your brief poem, “we bridge our gaps.” Thanks for hosting today. I am sharing a poem that I read this week that I just liked. It’s nostalgic, shows life is good, but has a bite at the end.
“we join and build,
we bridge our gaps.” – Love that. Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful pictures (smiles are the same in any language) and your experience and insights. Sounds like blessings flowed both ways.
Many thanks for hosting this week, too! (& wishing you and yours a Happy Hanukkah, if I read my calendar correctly for this weekend.)
Thanks for sharing some of your photos and your poem with us. All those smiles put a smile on my face!
What a wonderful experience, Buffy! Thanks so much for sharing those photos and your poem. Love the smiles on the kids’ faces. 🙂
At Alphabet Soup I’m all about chopsticks with two poems and a little bit of chopstick etiquette (my link goes live at 6 a.m.).
Thanks so much for hosting this week
Wow, Buffy, sounds like an amazing experience. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, along with your poem. I love the image of making “new worlds.”
Thanks for hosting Poetry Friday, too. My co-blogger, April Halprin Wayland asked me to share her link for her–it goes live in a few hours. In today’s post she recommends a particularly inventive and whimsical poetry collection of 2015…
Thank you for hosting Poetry Friday and for posting an inspirational back story and poem that is especially uplifting in this season of giving and taking, cheer, joining, building, and bridging in places familiar and unfamiliar. God bless you for your generosity! I especially loved “we plant, we grow, we reap in turn.” So much to ponder about the dynamics of human relationships in those few words. Thank you for sharing the photos, too. So much to read into them, too. Every blessing! Thank you!
Hi Buffy, Thanks so much for hosting and for sharing your beautiful experience. I am not surprised that you felt that you reaped as much or more than you gave. I have had similar experiences. My favorite line of your poem is:
“we join and build,
we bridge our gaps.”
There are so many gaps in this world to be bridged, aren’t there? Such a little word that sometimes describes a chasm! I think joining together as much as possible is part of the answer. Well done.