Back Home – Loren

Well it has been almost a month now, but we’re back home in Marquette.

For those of you who don’t know yet (and I would find it hard to believe there are many out there who don’t know)… Salem is pregnant! We found out while we were in Antigua at the end of September and we have an expected due date of May 20th, 2012. We are very excited and can’t wait to have a new life to join our little family.

Since our return to Marquette a few things have happened: I was hired by Best Buy to work as a seasonal employee in the Mobile department (I sell cell phones and accessories), Salem and I have been to the doctor for two visits with one of our OB doctors – both visits have been good and baby is doing very well, we celebrated Thanksgiving with Phil and Annette, and then I worked the midnight to 8 a.m. shift on Black Friday.

Here are some pictures of Salem’s development with the baby…can you see a little something growing there? I know I can 😀

— Loren


Finishing Up–Salem

We’re finishing up the school year here in Antigua. We had school cancelled today for rain, a holiday tomorrow, and my last day with students on Friday. Loren had his last day with students a week ago, but I had an extra week because they do a school play with the primary kids. The theme is Disney party and we had to come up with a dance to a Disney song. We are doing Rio, which I have never seen, but it’s a cute dance.

In other news, we have moved into the hostel for the last few weeks to be closer to Antigua. It’s been nice. We get a great breakfast and lunch every day and Loren has been working after school in exchange for our stay. We’re trying to save money for our trip back to the US, so this has been a great solution. We also get to meet a lot of people from all over the world. In the past few days I’ve met someone who lives 20 minutes from where my mom’s from (which is a small town most people have never heard of) and also someone who knows some of the climbing areas we’ve been to. It’s great to be able to bond with people here over places we’ve been.

We’ve only got 19 more days in Guatemala, but we’re really excited to come home and see all of you!

1 Year–Salem

Today is our 1 year anniversary! One year ago we were getting ready for our wedding in the amazing fall weather in Marquette! Here’s a couple of pictures from our wedding for you to enjoy!

165664_659696151867_40609372_36780870_7550819_nSalem and Loren's Wedding 008Salem and Loren's Wedding 014Salem and Loren's Wedding 01947576_659693112957_40609372_36780735_2603600_n163677_659694225727_40609372_36780785_7842759_n164892_659694704767_40609372_36780794_3279626_nDSCN0369

Independence Day–Salem

Guatemala’s Independence Day is September 15. September 15 is also the Independence Day of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. On September 15, 1821, all of these countries declared independence from Spain. Unlike the US, Guatemala hasn’t spent the 190 years since celebrating its freedom. There have been many problems here including a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. Even with all the problems, many Guatemalans are proud of their country and they all come together to celebrate Independence Day.

The celebration really starts on the 14th. Loren and I walked through town on the 14th, where many streets were blocked and there were very few cars on the roads. During the day many groups form to run through the streets with kazoos and Guatemalan flags to declare their Independence. We saw at least 5 of these groups in the little time we were in town.

The actual independence day has parades and bands. We didn’t go into town until about 5pm to see the big events. Ana and the two youngest kids went into town with us. Many people come together in the park, where there are street vendors selling all kinds of traditional Guatemalan food. There are also dozens of school bands and city bands playing in the park. They play everything from traditional songs to Lady Gaga. All of the bands march through the streets at the same time, so sometimes you can’t tell which songs belong to which groups, but it is really fun to watch. We got to see our friend Sofi playing in an alumni band for her school.

Finally, we walked to the cathedral where there were chairs set up and a podium for different speakers. We listened while everyone gathered to sing the national anthem and say the pledge of allegiance. There were also some speeches, but luckily they were short and to the point. It had been raining all day, and while we watched the bands, we were able to stand under the awning of a building, but while we were watching the speeches, we only had one umbrella for 5 people. Luckily it stopped raining just in time.

As we were walking away from the park, all of the bands started marching through the streets. We tried to find some people we knew that were playing, but didn’t see them. We watched a few bands walk by and listened to the music.

Then, since everyone in our group was born in the United States, we decided to be truly American and go for dinner at McDonalds. Smile

Our friend Sofi (the farthest away in the back row) playing for the La Salle school alumni band.

Allison sitting on “Lolenzo’s” shoulders so she could see the bands.

Folding the Guatemalan flag at the end of the ceremony.

At the top center is a lantern that someone lit after the ceremony. On top of the building it says “1821,” the year of Guatemala’s independence.

“Create Your Own Planet” Assignment

For about a week and a half I have been working with my Quinto Secretariado (Fifth Secretarial) students on a project called: “Create Your Own Planet”. When I first read a little bit about this idea in the end section of our text book’s chapter I was kind of excited. For their idea, the text has students simply write an essay about a planet of their own creation. I thought, well that sounds nice, but wouldn’t it be cool to include a poster or something a little more creative. Well the opportunity came when I mentioned in class that I really enjoyed the students’ artwork that was displayed on the wall. One of my students said, Mr. Loren we like your class because we do activities and projects…well, how could I miss a easy pitch like that. I immediately said, well I’ve been thinking about a project that we might do at the end of the chapter, but how would you like to do it now? I then described my idea and got many enthusiastic, Yes! Yes! Let’s do it! 😀

Below I’ve listed my lesson plan/assignment instructions and pictures of the results. Enjoy!

“Create Your Own Planet”
Instructions and Guide
This assignment consists of two main parts: first, an essay report on your planet; second, a poster displaying an image and basic information about your planet. Both the essay and the poster are worth 20 points. This assignment is due Tuesday, August 30, 2011.
Essay Instructions:
Your essay must meet the following requirements:
1. It must be one or two paragraphs long. Each paragraph must have at least three or four sentences.
2. Your essay must answer each of these questions:
a. What is the name of your planet? (Consider: describe how you developed the name or what the name means.)
b. Where is your planet located? (Consider: how far away from Earth is this planet? Is it in our solar system? Is it in a different solar system?
c. How was your planet discovered? (Consider: what is the name of the discoverer and how did he or she discover the planet – satellites, telescopes, or a manned spacecraft?)
d. What are your planet’s physical characteristics? (Consider: are the landforms similar to Earth? Are they different? Is there air to breath or another substance? Is there water?)
e. Does your planet support life?
i. If yes, describe the life forms. (Consider: are they similar to humans or completely different?)
ii. If no, describe why your planet does not support life.
Poster Instructions:
Your poster must meet the following requirements:
1. It must have a picture or a drawing of your planet. (This may be a hand drawn picture or something you create on your computer.)
2. Your poster must have each of the following:
a. The name of your planet.
b. The location of your planet.
c. The basic physical characteristics of your planet.
d. The name and a brief description (or picture) of the life forms that live on your planet.
Both your essay and your poster must also have the following:
1. Your full name
2. Your class
3. The due date of this assignment

Independence Day Celebration and Elections–Salem

The last week has been eventful. It all started with the spelling bee, which I’ve already told you about and ended with the independence day celebration on Friday. Guatemala’s independence day is September 15, but since we don’t have school this whole week, we celebrated last Friday. It was a long day, but also really fun. All of the pre-primary students prepared a song/dance/poem for Acto Civico, which is something we do every Month. We go to the cafeteria with all of the students from pre-primary and primary, sing the national anthem, recite the pledges, and get a values lesson from one of the primary grades. This acto civico was special, because all of the pre-primary kids did their acts instead of having a values lesson. The families of all of the students were also invited for this acto civico. All of the pre-primary kids also wore traditional Guatemalan clothing:


The teachers had to wear traditional shirts with dress pants. I couldn’t get a very good picture of mine, but here is the best I have:


Next all of the students went back to their buildings for the mercadito, where they sold traditional food they had prepared. All of the students (or their parents) prepared or bought traditional food and they sold the food for Q3 (less than 50 cents) each. Most of my kids did really well and we had a lot of different food, which I’ll try to explain.

Some of the kids brought bread with beans or chicken salad in the middle.

Some kids brought doblados, which are like fried empanadas.

Some brought different kinds of tamales, which are made from cornmeal and sometimes have beans, chicken, or pork inside.

A few brought mole, which has fried plantains in a sauce that is made with chocolate and different spices.

Some kids had a pudding with raisins on top.

And some kids had fried plantains.

I tried some mole, a pudding, and a doblado. I also was able to sneak some plantains from some of my students without paying. Loren tried a bread with beans and a doblado. All of the food was really good and the kids were so proud of the money they made. Instead of having the parents actually pay with money, they bought tickets outside. That way we could make sure none of the money ended up in the kids’ pockets or got lost.


Loren and his pan con frijoles.

After the mercadito, we went to watch Talento Boston, which was our primary talent show. There is a big talent competition sponsored by one of the local papers called Talent Kids and this was our school version. There were dancers and singers and most of them did really well. Then the primary chorus sang two songs. Ana’s daughter Allison and both of Hania’s kids were in the chorus and they did great! Allison sang the songs for the rest of the day, so I feel like I have them memorized!


We also went to our first political rally ever and it was here in Guatemala! We were in town so I could tutor and we found out that the man who was favored to win the Guatemalan election (Otto Perez Molina) was going to speak later that night. He was supposed to speak at around 6, so we got there around 6:30 and he started talking around 7:30. By the time he started talking we were tired and cold, but we felt accomplished because we had been there and tried to learn more about the elections. We’ve been feeling bad because we don’t know very much about the different parties in Guatemala. There are about 10 people running for president, and we only know 2 of their names.

So elections were yesterday and they do elections in a very interesting way. If no candidate gets above 50% of the vote, the top few candidates do a final election in November. The candidate with the highest percent only had around 37%, so the top 3 candidates will be going to the second election on November 6th, right before we leave for the US.

One of the interesting things about elections here is the format of the elections. Guatemala has about a 50% literacy rate, so they can’t have elections the same way we do in the US. Instead, ballots look like this:

(This is the one from 2007)

And the advertisements on the street look like this:


At first we thought that other parties were x-ing out their opponents’ signs, but we figured out that people vote by putting an X through the party of their choice, so even if a people are illiterate, they can still vote by doing exactly what the advertisement says.

Also, campaigns have really catchy songs that people blast from trucks as they drive around town and remind people to vote. There is one that Loren always gets stuck in his head and we found it on youtube for you to hear!

This blog post sounds like a partido patriota advertisement, but really, it was the first google image that came up.

I do have videos of the independence day performances, and I’ll put those on as soon as they upload!

Spelling Bee–Salem

Today was the English spelling bee for grades Kinder-7th. Kinder went first right at 8 and Prepa went at 8:45. The spelling bee was held in the pre-primary building, so we all had to be very quiet during the Kinder spelling bee. To prepare I had to do a mini spelling bee in my classroom. The top 3 students from each prepa class got to participate in the spelling bee in front of parents and teachers. Parents were invited to come and all of their classmates watched. I pulled words out of a bag and read the word and the student spelled it. I had 40 words to start with that the students studied, and I had 50 extra words in case we finished the regular ones. The top 2 spellers finished the regular words and went through about 10 of the extra ones. I was very proud of my kids and they all did very well! After the spelling bee we went outside for recess and next we went to the cafeteria to practice for the independence day celebration on Friday. We couldn’t go to our classes because of the spelling bee. So we basically did nothing all day. tomorrow is the Spanish spelling bee and it will be the same as today with nothing to do. Then Friday is the independence day celebration all day and next week we have no school. Basically I’m done teaching for 2 weeks. Wow!

Getting ready and putting on their numbers.










Final 2

Giving away award certificates and pins. 6th place.


5th place.

4th place

3rd place

2nd place


And the winner!


They all did so good!