Andrew Bergman ’14 Organizes Service Trip to Rural Guatemala

Andrew Bergman ’14 wanted to spend his summer helping people and seeing the world.

Still in his freshman year, he wasn’t shy about inviting others to join him in his quest to visit a developing country; he set up flyers in the cafeteria, posted announcements around the College, and contacted Spanish professors, who he hoped would share information about his intended upcoming service trip.

The only requirements for the trip were to be dedicated to service and to be proficient in Spanish.

Through his efforts, Bergman was able to find seven other students ready for the challenge: Marina Gutierrez-Jones ’14, Alex Gardner ’14, Megan Richman ’14, Veronica Salas ’14, Daniel Price ’14, Angelica Ferreira ’14, and Tracy Kao ’12.

Through United Planet, an international volunteering society, Bergman was able to choose a location, focusing on finding a developing nation, where their time and resources would be best spent.

“We narrowed it down to a selection of places first Mexico, Ecuador, and others. But Guatemala seemed like a perfect place for us to conduct a meaningful project,” he said.

During their ten-day trip to Finca la Florida, Guatemala which is a rural mountain village, 7 to 8 hours from Guatemala City the group of eight students assisted in the construction of the village’s schoolhouse, mentored the children at the school, and worked in the coffee fields.

“There are 300 children in this little village, and their schoolhouse only has one room, so we helped to build a second room for them,” said Bergman.

Aided by funds from the Center for Human Rights Leadership, the Kravis Leadership Institute, and the Dean of Students Office, Bergman and his group of volunteers were able to fund part of their trip. The other part of the funding has come from their own grassroots efforts to raise money they worked with ASCMC to clean up after school events, they worked closely with businesses in the Claremont Village, and they even canvassed the residential area of Claremont.

The group is still raising funds to cover expenses for the trip, and Bergman can be contacted at (530) 575-5061 or at abergman14@students.claremontmckenna.edu.

Bergman explains the trip as hands-on learning: “It’s largely about self-development. Seeing one culture mix with another culture, especially one that faces extreme hardship on a daily basis, is essential to understanding oneself. It will be a valuable experience for me and the other students. And I’m excited to foster and lead that.”

“The trip was eye-opening,” says Daniel Price, a participant. “It was interesting to personally interact with a society so vastly different from our own.”