Courtyard with fountain in guatemala

Finding Beauty in Guatemala


International travel can open your eyes to new ways of living and allow you to think outside of your "normal." Ocie Kilgus, Nicolet Spanish Instructor, shares how even a seemingly small difference between Guatemalan yards and our own bring new considerations, thought, and respect for beauty:

One of the many charms about the people and country of Guatemala is the cultivation of beauty for beauty’s sake, regardless of the scale of impact. For example, during a recent trip to Guatemala, Gary and I walked every day to and fro through the same residential neighborhood. One observation that particularly captured my attention was the care and effort that someone took to tend to a seemingly insignificant, small patch of grass, complete with painted stones arranged in a neat and tidy fence-like design. The plot couldn’t have been any bigger than half the size of our tiny Toyota Yaris.

Since a good majority of Guatemalan houses are not constructed with views toward the street but rather toward an interior courtyard arrangement, one could wonder why all the bother for a bit of grass that only passers-by would see. After all, water is scarce, pedestrians can be inconsiderate of private property, dogs love to roll around and poo in other people’s yards, and garbage receptacles are far and few between, thereby allowing litterbugs to do what they do.

Upon our return to Rhinelander, I kept thinking about that little plot of grass and what it might signify to the person who meticulously cared for it, knowing that s/he couldn’t even admire it from the vantage point of a window or a doorframe. Ultimately, I stopped pondering that aspect of the enigma and embraced the grassy area as I saw it:  a creation of beauty simply for the pleasure of doing so.

If you're interested in exploring a new country and culture, check out our international study trips. Registration for Guatemala is open through March 29.