Downtown Guatemala City

After orientation this morning we went downtown for a walking tour of the old historic center, followed by lunch, a tour of the national palace and time at the artisans’s market. After many years of decline, Guatemala City has finally starting paying attention to its historic downtown, adding security, closing off pedestrian streets to auto traffic and beautifying the central square. That has made a big difference. Below are a couple of pictures from today’s activities. The first is of the students gathered around the peace sculpture inside the palace. The peace sculpture celebrates the signing of the peace accords between the government and the guerrillas. That accord, signed in 1996, ended a 36-year civil war. The last is of one of the murals inside the palace.

Peace plaza

Built in 1939-1943 by a dictator who was overthrown a year later in a popular uprising. This dictator was so self-obsessed that he had all of the door-knobs on every door in the palace embossed with his personal fingerprint

Built in 1939-1943 by a dictator who was overthrown a year later in a popular uprising. This dictator was so self-obsessed that he had all of the door-knobs on every door in the palace embossed with his personal fingerprint

Like all of the murals in the palace, this one tells a story about race and conquest. It is a "happy story" in this telling of it. Unfortunately, the truth was a lot more complicated.

Like all of the murals in the palace, this one tells a story about race and conquest in Guatemala’s history. It is a “happy story” in this telling of it. Unfortunately, the truth was a lot more complicated and a lot less “happy.”

palace fingerprint

This afternoon, students went home with their host families. This is always a time of nervous excitement for everyone.  Tomorrow we will get our first student-produced blog (I promise!) when one of the students reflects on this experience. For tonight, everyone is very busy getting to know their hosts!

Prof B

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