Posted May 22, 2014 by 1 Comments

One of the things so impressive about WND’s newest partner, Saber y Gracia (Wisdom and Grace) Christian School, is just how wildly effective it is in its mission. Smack in the middle of rural Guatemala, students who would otherwise have little access to a quality education are having their lives transformed.

I spent a month embedded with the ministry, and we’re dedicating the entire June issue of World Next Door Magazine to cover their work. Here’s an excerpt from one of the feature articles I’m working on. Enjoy!


Me showing several Saber y Gracia students a few photos from my travels (Photo by Lauren Pupchik)

Me showing several Saber y Gracia students a few photos from my travels (Photo by Lauren Pupchik)

The kids loved looking through my photos. The entire first week was filled with shouts of, “Photo! Photo!” whenever the recess bell rang (it took them another week to learn my actual name). I’d grab my iPad, sit down on a low cement wall and flip through photos from Kenya, Haiti, India, Ukraine, Cambodia, etc. while a giant mass of red-uniform-wearing students pressed in from every side to get a glimpse.

The photo of Trevi Fountain that so captivated José

The photo of Trevi Fountain that so captivated José

During one of these photo-sharing sessions, I flipped through shots of my visit to Rome when one of the students grabbed my arm and asked me to go back. José, a 10th grader, wanted to see the photo of Trevi Fountain again. I went back to that photo and he began gesturing excitedly and talking about something.

In my broken understanding of Spanish I heard, “Something something horses something god something water something horses.”

I was lost. Did he just really love horses or something? Was he excited that someone once carved a horse out of marble?

No. As it turns out, José is absolutely fascinated by Greek mythology. Although he had never seen Trevi Fountain before, he immediately recognized Poseidon, the god of the sea, and his team of winged horses. As we spoke more (through an interpreter), it was clear José had a hunger for knowledge about history and mythology and would gobble up any resources on the subject he could get his hands on. I would not be shocked if José became an archaeologist one day.

To be totally honest, I was quite taken aback by José’s eagerness to learn. I’ve met countless kids in many developing countries, and it is a rare thing to find one whose worldview expands beyond their own little slice of the globe.

José, who is fascinated by Greek Mythology

José, who is fascinated by Greek Mythology

It didn’t take me long, however, to realize José wasn’t the only kid like this at Saber y Gracia. In fact, over my four weeks with the school, I met many who have visions of a future far grander than I would have ever expected.

One student I met wants to become an architect. Another wants to study accounting in college so she can open a restaurant. I even met a sixth grader who wants to become a systems engineer when he grows up. What kind of sixth grader knows what a systems engineer even is?!?

I was blown away. Here was a school in a poverty-stricken community, attended by the children of farmers and manual laborers, yet full to the brim with dreamers, with learners, with visionaries.

I want to reiterate how crazy this is. The vast majority of young people in the poor communities I’ve visited around the world do not have a vision for their lives beyond what their parents and their parents’ parents have done. Yes, a few might beat the odds and break away, but it is absolutely normal for kids in communities like this to drop out of school early, get low-paying jobs, and watch as the cycle of poverty continues its endless spiral in their lives.

But not at Saber y Gracia. Something was different there. These kids had dreams.

What in the world was going on?

Stay tuned for the June issue of World Next Door Magazine to read more!

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About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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  1. Lauren said... 


    May 30th, 2014 at 2:09 pm  

    I’ve had so much fun sharing these articles with the students at Saber y Gracia. They are so excited for the Guatemala edition!

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