2007.10.26: October 26, 2007: Headlines: COS - Guatemala: Secondary Education: TEFL: Opelika Auburn News: Kevin Garrison finds fulfillment in Peace Corps work in Guatemala as an instructor at Blue Schoolhouse in San Marcos La Laguna teaching English

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guatemala: Peace Corps Guatemala: Peace Corps Guatemala: Newest Stories: 2007.10.26: October 26, 2007: Headlines: COS - Guatemala: Secondary Education: TEFL: Opelika Auburn News: Kevin Garrison finds fulfillment in Peace Corps work in Guatemala as an instructor at Blue Schoolhouse in San Marcos La Laguna teaching English

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Kevin Garrison finds fulfillment in Peace Corps work in Guatemala as an instructor at Blue Schoolhouse in San Marcos La Laguna teaching English

Kevin Garrison finds fulfillment in Peace Corps work in Guatemala as an instructor at Blue Schoolhouse in San Marcos La Laguna teaching English

Garrison, a 2000 Auburn University alumnus, has spent four years in Guatemala, where he works as an instructor at Blue Schoolhouse in San Marcos La Laguna teaching English as a Peace Corps worker. Garrison also maintains the tiny schoolís library and serves as the schoolís choir director. Itís one way of putting his secondary education social science degree from AU to good use. Garrison tried to find a job closer to home. Just after receiving his teaching certificate from Alabamaís Department of Education, he landed a job at Chambers Academy in LaFayette. The experience was one Garrison looks back on with mixed emotions. "There seemed to be so many discipline problems, and sometimes, the kids really didnít seem interested in what I had to teach them," said Garrison, who lost his father before starting the job. Thatís when Garrison spoke with a colleague at Chambers Academy who had a daughter serving in the Peace Corps in Malawi, Africa. Garrison heard about the positive impact she was having on peopleís lives. "Thatís when I knew I wanted to do something that made a difference in the world," he said.

Kevin Garrison finds fulfillment in Peace Corps work in Guatemala as an instructor at Blue Schoolhouse in San Marcos La Laguna teaching English

AU grad finds fulfillment in Peace Corps work in Guatemala

Donathan Prater / Opelika-Auburn News
October 26, 2007

Kevin Garrisonís workdays usually start before 7:30 a.m. and donít end until dark.

He and his wife, Victoriana, and their daughter live with his father-in-law in San Marcos La Laguna.

The two families share a home equipped only with running water which they use in a pila (a large sink) to wash both dishes and laundry.

While living without electricity isnít glamorous, Garrison, 32, wouldnít have it any other way.

Garrison, a 2000 Auburn University alumnus, has spent four years in Guatemala, where he works as an instructor at Blue Schoolhouse in San Marcos La Laguna teaching English as a Peace Corps worker.

Garrison also maintains the tiny schoolís library and serves as the schoolís choir director.

Itís one way of putting his secondary education social science degree from AU to good use.

Garrison tried to find a job closer to home. Just after receiving his teaching certificate from Alabamaís Department of Education, he landed a job at Chambers Academy in LaFayette.

The experience was one Garrison looks back on with mixed emotions.

"There seemed to be so many discipline problems, and sometimes, the kids really didnít seem interested in what I had to teach them," said Garrison, who lost his father before starting the job.

Thatís when Garrison spoke with a colleague at Chambers Academy who had a daughter serving in the Peace Corps in Malawi, Africa.

Garrison heard about the positive impact she was having on peopleís lives.

"Thatís when I knew I wanted to do something that made a difference in the world," he said.

While he considered the Peace Corps after listening to one of the organizationís volunteers on AUís campus, the matter was one Garrison prayed on heavily.

Garrison made his first trip to Guatemala, where he taught in an elementary and middle school, in January 2003.

Six months later he fell ill and had to return to Alabama.

But the memories of his time in Guatemala lingered.

"I felt like I hadnít completed my mission there," said Garrison, who remembers his first vision of the country coming by way of airplane as he looked down at several active volcanoes across the landscape.

Before leaving for Guatemala, Garrison had been supplied with information about the history, geography and cuisine of the Central American country, but nothing could prepare him for another barrier he has gradually overcome during his time there - the language.

"My Spanish was mediocre; and although I had taken Spanish courses in high school and at Auburn, I still wasnít all that fluent," he said. Garrison says his fluency has improved to about 75 percent.

Garrisonís wife and her family speak the ancient Mayan language, Kaqchikel, so he is learning it as he goes along.

At the school, Garrison works with students from 8 to 21 years of age, but there are no restrictions on those who can attend school in Guatemala.

"Kids study when they can because many of them lose a year of schooling when they have to work to help support their families," said Garrison, who only recently received his Guatemalan residency on a permanent status.

Teaching English is important, but itís sharing lessons about life that Garrison finds most fulfilling.

"Being a Christian, I often share Bible scriptures with my students or simply practical advice about daily life," he said.

There are times when Garrison said he gets a little homesick.

When that happens, he looks at the lives heís positively touching, and knows heís in the right place.

"I truly feel satisfied with my work here," Garrison said. "There are times when I feel tired; but I believe the opportunity to be here is something the Lord Jesus opened up for me, and that he will give me the strength to carry on."

To learn more about the Blue Schoolhouse Program and how you can help, visit http://blueschoolhouse.weebly.com/ or http://www.atitlanresource.com/.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: October, 2007; Peace Corps Guatemala; Directory of Guatemala RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Guatemala RPCVs; Secondary Education; Teaching English; Alabama





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Story Source: Opelika Auburn News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guatemala; Secondary Education; TEFL

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