Students to travel to Guatemala

Jordan Bedikian

Students have the opportunity to participate in the HW GO! Digital Storytelling trip to Guatemala this summer Aug. 1-19.

Participants will develop documentary filmmaking and editing skills by interviewing locals, visiting Mayan ruins and learning about Guatemalan women. Prior to departure, students will learn about Guatemala’s history and plan a media project.

The chaperones will include Harvard-Westlake Visual Arts Department Head Cheri Gaulke, journalist Jeff Macintyre, visual arts teacher Joe Medina and the founder of Peace Works Travel Alethea Paradis.

“The trip is our signature program where we take students to war-torn countries,” Gaulke said. “There, they will meet actual people who are victims of events that have occurred. [Last summer] in Laos, students met a man who had his legs blown off by a 40-year-old mine left over from the Vietnam War.”

The program is three weeks long, with a two-day pre-trip workshop followed by an eight-day trip to Guatemala and then a two-day post-trip workshop.

“Through the trip, students will not only learn history from actual survivors, living historians, but they will learn how to communicate those ideas to other people through living storytelling,” Gaulke said.

The documentaries that students create will be submitted to film festivals and screened for the school community.

“Guatemala is a hidden gem of the Americas with a rich Mayan culture that predates the birth of Christ,” Gaulke said. “This one-of-a-kind experience combines cultural awareness, adventure travel, insiders’ access to social enterprise, natural landscapes and project-based inquiry of the Maya culture.”

All Harvard-Westlake students are eligible to go on the trip.

“I hope that after this trip, I’ll have a better understanding of the people and the environment in Guatemala, as well as more appreciation for the culture,” Angel Hoyang ’18 said. “I also look forward to the opportunity to do some filming and photography and further my experiences in those types of media. Overall, I’m really excited to have the opportunity to explore and further my interests when I usually don’t have the chance to do so because of school.”