Happy Hoods at Home

Jessica Hoffman

Happy Hoods at Home

By Jessica Hoffman

It is crazy to think that almost an entire semester and summer has gone by since my study abroad program in Guatemala! The trip was truly a life-changing experience. I had done and seen things I had never done before. Life in Guatemala, their values, norms and beliefs, are so much different than in the United States. It is a true gift to have this type of perspective on a whole other culture. So often I feel I take for granted such basic things like a nice home, food security and good health. I feel so fortunate to get to live my life and have these experiences that really help me grow as an individual. After Guatemala, and seeing what life is like in other parts of the world, I feel there is really no reason not to be happy and appreciate the problems that I am presented with.

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Perception Across Continents

Michaela Jones

Perception Across Continents

By Michaela Jones

When I got on the plane to Guatemala, I felt like I had a good idea of what to expect. I had been traveling in Latin and South America for years, from getting to go with my dad on a business trip to Santiago, to academic exchange in Guadalajara, to two months of community service essentially alone in a rural community in the Dominican Republic. But traveling for research was different, and left me with different insights.

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The Power of People

Trinity England

The Power of People

By Trinity England

I find myself discussing my trip to Guatemala with friends and acquaintances almost every day. To say that my life has changed since my study abroad trip would be an understatement. I now have a new group of friends that I feel like I have known a lifetime and a completely different view of sustainability. For a lot of sustainability students the reason we have pursued this degree is because we feel it is our duty to protect mother earth, to preserve the natural resources, to save unique species, etc. We have a connection with the earth and feel responsible to stand up for it. As much as I believe in all of those things I feel like I have found a deeper responsibility and that is to protect the people that inhabit the earth. In Guatemala we encountered some of the most selfless and generous people and for them to act in this way with their current resources was a self-awakening experience. We were all shocked by their happiness and deep appreciation for what they expected everyday and they were probably even more surprised to find out that we were not as happy as they would have thought considering all the luxuries we have but do not pay much attention to. The difference was our expectations; they did not expect to have anything but rice and beans for dinner so when meat was occasionally on the table their reality exceeded their expectation.

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People Just Don’t Get It…or Just Don’t Care

Siddhanth Paralkar

People Just Don’t Get It…or Just Don’t Care

By Chris Frettoloso

Two months back from Guatemala and it’s safe to say I am back in my normal routine. It took a few weeks to get out of the funk I was in. Depressed? No, I just felt like I was alone in my own little place, daydreaming of Guatemala. I certainly wasn’t alone. The parasite I brought back kept me company for a week or so. And it seemed like every day there was someone new asking “how was your trip?”. Unfortunately, it felt like a majority of them were not genuine questions. They seemed more like a common courtesy hello as opposed to really caring about the response that was to follow. Kind of like when people say ‘how are you?”. Most people aren’t expecting anything more than an “I’m good” and then continue on with their day. I just sensed a not really caring thing from people. And not so much about me per se, but most were disinterested in hearing about the issues and problems I witnessed in Guatemala. The comment “Yeah, that’s just how it is in those places” seems like it was a response option to a survey question, which everyone kept choosing.

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It’s all about the People!

Siddhanth Paralkar

It’s all about the People!

By Siddhanth Paralkar

Time flew by fast. It is the end of September and I cannot believe that we returned from the Guatemala study abroad program four months ago. It will soon be a year and I will fail to recall many things that that we did, but there were certain things that I will forever retain. On the day before we were to leave Guatemala on our way to Antigua we played a reflection activity. This activity was not about what we learned academically but what we learned about each other and ourselves. It stirred us emotionally and brought us all closer to each other. Personally my learning was that I realized I like being surrounded by people, be it friends, acquaintances or even strangers. I feel strong and can give my best when I am connected to people and not pursuing things in solitude. I realized that as long as I am humble in my approach I could surely break the ice with anyone. It was the Guatemalans that also made me feel that sense of belonging through their conduct of respect and humility with us.

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The Conditions for Happiness

Christopher Robinson

The Conditions for Happiness

By Christopher Robinson

What makes you happy? During the two weeks that I spent abroad in Guatemala studying how neighborhood conditions influence the happiness of residents, this question was asked many times. The question was not only posed to me and my fellow ASU classmates but also to the many Guatemalans that we met in our travels. Unsurprisingly, there were many different answers. However, listening closely to what the Guatemalans were saying revealed a common thread within many of their responses. To my surprise, this frequent source of happiness seemed to occur regardless of physical neighborhood conditions.

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What happens in Guatemala does not stay in Guatemala

Sambhram Patel

What happens in Guatemala does not stay in Guatemala

By Sambhram Patel

September 29, 2015, 7:00 a.m.: The alarm rings and it is time to wake up, have breakfast and get to college – that place that we go to learn. But there was another place that I got to learn in around four months ago that did not have the air conditioners that are set at (an unbearable) 70°F nor the classrooms with chairs, tables and projectors. This other place was often a bus, a hotel room with 12 people gathered in it, a landfill with giant vultures or a lake surrounded by volcanos. This other place was Guatemala, the country where I had the opportunity to participate in the Sustainable Neighborhoods for Happiness Study Abroad program.

This program has redefined my idea of an ideal learning community: Two dozen students with open minds; two to three faculty members/facilitators; constant travel in a foreign country where half of the group does not know the local language and everyone is outside their comfort zone; 24/7 class time. I have learned a lot during my time in Guatemala, and also reflecting upon my time in Guatemala after the program. This blog post is not a reflection of the journey in Guatemala specifically but an analysis of what I am doing now and its relation to that journey.

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Guatemala Reflections

Jayme Foland

Guatemala Reflections

By Jayme Foland

Towards the end of our journey in Guatemala, our faculty director Scott Cloutier requested that we each reveal something that we learned about our study abroad group. Naturally, I was petrified. I have very acute social anxiety and—despite loving every single wonderful person on our bus that day—I wanted more than anything in the world to pull out my comfy Guatemalan blanket and hide. It was difficult for me to put everything we’d encountered together in just a few short phrases. It wasn’t until after we’d arrived back home that I was able to appreciate how this journey had mentally and emotionally changed me.
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From Guatemala to Colombia

Davi Briggs

From Guatemala to Colombia

By Davi Briggs

Following our program in Guatemala, I set sail for Colombia. Of course by “set sail” I really mean that boarded a United Airlines flight to Bogota; “set flight” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though.

So far my work in Colombia has been wonderful. Moreover, the work that I have been doing here is largely been a continuation of the work that my group did in Guatemala. Like in Guatemala, my focus area in Colombia is economic development. Unlike traditional economic development plans that have been implemented in Colombia, however, my goal is to continue incorporating the community approach to development that we used in Guatemala.

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Devils Climb to Angelic Heights

Paul Prosser

Devils Climb to Angelic Heights

By Paul Prosser

Lightning, thunder and rain ripped open the early evening sky. Metal patio roof panels flapped and waved like flower petals in swirling gusts. This shaky refuge reeked of scenes from Dante’s Inferno, without the attendant heat and flames. Nevertheless, amidst the chaos and sodden air, hope floated over rivers of rain.

Thus ended of our day of studying happiness in Chocala, Guatemala. Before, during, and after that day I witnessed devils, Sun Devils to be exact, behave contrary to their satanic moniker. Before the monsoon, food and drink were cheerfully shared and support freely given on the bus. Spanish translations were made, ideas brainstormed and constructive criticism dispensed. Happiness was not only the work at hand, but the prevailing mood.

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