Student Experiences


My life has changed drastically since I have attended Metropolitan Community College because I now have a wider world view. For this question, I will speak about my two week experience in Guatemala with my college’s study abroad program. I arrived in Guatemala with very little knowledge of Spanish, and I knew I was going to get a bit of culture shock. The first day I arrived in Antigua we met with our host family who greeted me with warmth and kindness, but as the days went on I still felt an awkward tension. I began to think, "This must be a glimpse of what it feels like for foreigners living in the States." The first week, we had to communicate primarily through facial expression and hand movements. After a few red face moments of embarrassing myself I was able to lighten up and become more comfortable sitting and speaking with the family. Ogli, who was the mother of the household, started to wear a medal I gave her. The medal was of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and it read, "Holy Family." In actuality, it only took about five days for me to start speaking Spanish and eating many corn toritllas like a true Guatemalan. I even became good friends with a Guatemalan man who shares the same name as I do. He was my Spanish instructor in Antigua Guatemala, and he and I formed a good friendship to where we still keep in contact through facebook. I will never forget walking through cobblestone colonial streets of Antigua conversing for what seemed like hours with him in Spanish.


The most memorable and life changing part of the study abroad experience occurred in the second week when we did a service learning project in Santa Lucia. Santa Lucia is located about 15 minutes outside of the main city of Antigua, and the poverty I witnessed there is a poverty that will not be seen in the United States. The city was built on the side of a steep mountain, and the only way to reach the city is by carefully descending on foot. One is only a small slip away from tumbling head first down the old hand-built concrete roads. Houses in this city are built with tin, and trash can be seen throughout. Our volunteer group was given the task of digging a foundation for an after school shelter where kids go to eat, study, pray, and most importantly, avoid trouble. The best part of the service trip was meeting Tomas, one of the kids who participated in the after school program. He was about 11 years old, and he was the hardest working 11 year old boy I have ever met in my life. As we were busy digging a new foundation, Tomas suddenly appeared from the streets of Santa Lucia, and he began to take charge of the wheel barrel. Every time I would look up I would see the 5 foot tall Guatemalan boy sprinting with a mound full of dirt in the red wheel barrel as it wobbled from side to side over the unpaved cracks in the roads. He would dump the dirt down the steep mountain side, and before we could turn around, he would be waiting for a refill. By the end of the day he was huffing and puffing, and I gave him the earned nickname of, “Tomas El Trabajador.”


— Max Douglas



MCC student describes experiences at MCC and Guatemala