Celebrating Esvin’s Graduation

Mary Thompson, a Sponsor since 2000, shared a reflection on her visit to Guatemala last fall to celebrate her student’s graduation.

It was to be my sixth visit to Common Hope but the first for the high school graduation of one of “my kids.” My friend, Sarah, was as excited as I about the opportunity, and it would be her first trip to Guatemala and Common Hope.

Mary Thompson (left) and her friend Sarah Zimmerman visited New Hope on their trip to Guatemala last November.

Eleven years ago, my husband and I made our first visit, and we started sponsoring soon after. Since his death, it has been such a joy to go back to Antigua and remember our shared enthusiasm for this experience — now with three different families.

Sarah and I were like two kids off on a new adventure as we were driven to Esvin’s home. Esvin had clearly matured and become more self-confident since I saw him two years ago. The whole family made us feel so welcome and at home. Gifts were given, and while I had agonized over what would be most appropriate, it was the Phillies baseball cap which Sarah gave Esvin that won the prize!

Esvin said he was looking forward to finding a job so he could help the family. He hopes to continue school on weekends. How does a young man like Esvin find his first job? He certainly doesn’t look in the classified section of the local paper, nor does he have a network of friends or relatives to help out. Again, Common Hope is there to help with filling out application forms and practicing interviewing.

Graduation day came — and only Esvin’s mother and younger brother came. You can imagine my dismay! But it was explained that Esvin and his father work part-time at a restaurant, and he had to work that day. My realization was that we were in Guatemala, that here was a family that works whenever an opportunity comes, and I honored that. How pleased I was that Esvin was represented, at least. And my tears of pride and gratitude were for all 108 of those beautiful young people. We have been told that with a high school education in Guatemala you no longer have to live in poverty. I strongly believe Esvin will be able to realize that in his future.

I came home even more enthusiastic about Common Hope and all it does to help the people of Guatemala. An added benefit of this trip was the opportunity to meet and get acquainted with so many of the St. Paul staff. What a wonderfully talented and committed group of people they are. Sarah and I enjoyed every opportunity we had to be with them.

Now I have chosen a new student to sponsor, a 4-year-old girl named Jaqueline. Will I ever get back to Guatemala and have an opportunity to get to know her and her family? Sarah says she’s ready, and so am I.

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5 Responses to Celebrating Esvin’s Graduation

  1. Sandi April 1, 2010 at 4:56 am #

    Thanks for sharing. I have been to Guatemala once before, volunteering at a different program (Safe Passage, in Guatemala City) and now I plan to go back (in October or November) and volunteer with Common Hope. Reading your story is inspiring and I look forward to the experience.

  2. -amy April 23, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    I would be very interested in hearing about your experience with Safe Passage and later possibly comparing that with your experience at Common Hope. I hoping to provide volunteer learning opportunities for social work students from the US and want to find out as much as possible about each program in an effort to make both the learning experience valuable for the students AND ensure that the community is benefited by our involvement.


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