"What is laid down, ordered, factual is never enough to embrace the whole truth: life always spills over the rim of every cup."             -Boris Pasternak, Nobel-prize winning author of Doctor Zhivago.  

These reflections from participants illustrate "life spilling over the rim" of every placement....

"The maguey leaf is stuck and my machine doesn’t work.  I remove the crushing teeth from the rollers with the sun lying on my back like a heavy but comfortable blanket.  The leaf isn’t really stuck, rather the machine does not work properly.  I search for assistance, for a solution, and find it.  The answer is rope.  The machine taught me so much today.  My hard work paid off.  The bed calls to me now that I’m finished.  Drifting off to sleep on my private cloud warmed by the sun.   My host brother calls to me, 'Quieres jugar?'  He knows I don’t want to play, so he stays with me and turns on Spanish TV.  Sitting with my little brother under my arms is as good as any siesta.  We do play until dinner.  I always wanted a little brother."

"Thursday evening we invited all the people supporting our Guatemalan experience to get together for a party!  We wanted to recognize the love and care our home-stay families and Spanish teachers invest in our cultural experiences.  We ate guacamole, beans, hummus and pita, pico de gallo and many desserts and chocolate.  We danced salsa and merengue and played funny games in Spanish all night.  It was a great time and we are all so happy Markus and Laura put it together!"

"I have always been confused about my nationality.  Sometimes, when I’m with my “gringo” friends, I feel like a straight-up Latino.  Other times, like when I visited my family in Venezuela, I couldn’t possibly be more white.  But most of the time I am nothing.  Here in Guatemala I am just the foreigner.  I’m not even American.  But today was different.  I’m not sure what I felt like, but I wasn’t the foreigner anymore.  I’m walking down the street, my head way up high in the clouds, when I hear, 'Hola vos.' Returning back to earth I see in front of me Cristofer, the 12-year old boy I played hackey sack with the week before.  '¿Quieres jugar?'  As pained as I am that I don’t have time to play, I smile.  '¡Que lástima! Mañana pues.'  In spite of my sore legs, I walk away with a spring in my step, excited to see Cristofer tomorrow."  

"The Monday after my birthday, I arrived at the clinic and went through the usual greetings including an occasional 'Happy Birthday!' from those who remembered.  I was in the pharmacy working on inventory when Guadelupe, the nurse practitioner who attends to all births in the area, walked into the room and handed me a gift.  I unfolded the item and it was one of the most beautiful huipiles (traditional Mayan blouses) I have ever seen!  She had gone to her home village Totonicapan that weekend and bought a huipil from Nahuala, a nearby town.  She knows how much I love the traditional traje and made sure to get one that would match with the corte that I made.  I could hardly believe it because huipiles are not an inexpensive purchase, especially for a single, working Mayan woman.  I have been welcomed with open arms by the communities with whom I serve and live in Guatemala and I am forever changed by their selflessness and kindness."