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Hannah Miller ’13 with the children she tutors in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Hannah Miller ’13 with the children she tutors in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

An Education in Guatemala

While spending a summer internship teaching at a school and orphanage in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, english major Hannah Miller ’13 has been amazed at the progress some of her kids have made. Teaching a first grade girl how to read has been for Miller one of her favorite parts of the internship. “The girl and her siblings just entered school for the first time, and [they] have been very good at hiding the fact that a lot of them still don't know how to read,” says Miller. “But in working one on one with her, she has started to sound out words a little bit.”

While many college students relish the opportunity to sleep in during summer vacation, Miller is up at six to grab a quick breakfast before school. She spends her mornings teaching English at the Colegio Miguel Angel Asturias, an elementary school in Quetzaltenango. In the afternoons, Miller tutors at an orphanage that serves as a home for many of the kids who attend her school.

For Miller, who is working under the auspices of Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, no two days are the same. She recounts one experience when a delegation of American doctors came and turned the school into a clinic for a week. “Instead of giving classes, there were doctors giving checkups, a pharmacy with medicine and dentists who pulled teeth,” she says. “They took students, their families, and children from the orphanage and from the feeding program, as well as people from the community who paid a small fee. My job was translating for and assisting the dentists. I comforted kids as they were getting teeth extracted, sterilized instruments, and also participated in several long translating chains that involved English, Spanish, and K'iche, an indigenous Mayan language. It was incredible to not only help my students, but so many other people from the community. We pulled over 200 teeth in a week!”

The experience has been an education for Miller as well, who has had to make some cultural adjustments, including eating beans twice a day and adapting to differences in the classroom. She explains that in Guatemala, students sweep and clean and show respect by greeting the teacher when he or she enters the room. The internship has also allowed Miller to use Spanish to interact with the locals, and she has gotten used to hearing three languages--Spanish, K'iche and English.

Miller is one of more than 60 students who received summer stipends from the CPGC, allowing them to work on projects in the U.S. or abroad in areas related to peace making and peace building, as well as to social, political, economic and governmental challenges.

--Stephen W Handlon ‘13

The ramp from Magill Library with Ryan Gym and Sharpless Hall in the background.

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