Kelan Stoy completes his volunteer post with Common Hope today, after nearly two years coordinating Vision Teams and working in one of our partner schools. This fall, he will pursue a master’s degree in city planning at the University of California-Berkeley, where he will focus on transportation and land use planning with an emphasis on infrastructure in developing countries like Guatemala.
Says Kelan, “It will be sad to leave behind all those I have met here in Guatemala, but I hope that opportunities such as my thesis will lead me back here in the near future. For everyone I have met in my role as a Vision Team Coordinator, I just want to say that it has been a pleasure!” We wish Kelan the best in his studies and thank him for his enthusiastic service to Common Hope. Below, a Q and A on his time in Guatemala.
Position: Vision Team Coordinator/Homework Center Aide
Time with Common Hope: 20 months
Favorite Guatemalan cuisine: Pepian
#1 Travel Essential: The less in the backpack the better! It forces you to go out and interact with others!
How did you come to volunteer here at Common Hope?
I actually came down on a Vision Team when I was in high school. The experience greatly impacted my outlook on life and influenced what I chose to study at college. I ended up majoring in international studies and geography with a focus on development studies. I wanted to spend a few years as an international volunteer post graduation, and it just so happened that Common Hope had the coordinator position available to lead the very same trip that made such a big impact in my life. So here I am!
What has surprised you the most about working with Common Hope?
The incredible friendliness of all the staff and affiliated families. Coming to work in a bad mood isn’t an option here!
What is a new skill you have learned through living in Guatemala?
Salsa dancing. For all of you who have seen my attempts at dancing in the U.S., try and believe that!
What do you want people back home to know about your experience here?
I would just like people to know that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working at Common Hope. Even though I am thousands of miles from home, receiving the warm greetings of co-workers and affiliated families at the project or around the pueblos of Antigua every day has made me feel at home here in Guatemala. It is going to be very difficult to leave. Also, I encourage anyone (especially recent college grads) who has an interest in working abroad to check out the opportunities available at Common Hope. It is an incredible organization that is doing great things in Guatemala!
Has anything happened during your time here that will make your life different?
My time in Guatemala has helped me re-prioritize what I feel is important in life. I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of walking or biking everywhere, shopping at the local market, and not being distracted by the latest gadgets. I hope to be able to bring this lifestyle back to the U.S. when I return. Seeing the smiling faces at Common Hope and the gratitude of our families is not something I will easily forget and helps remind me that more “things” do not necessarily equate to a better life. The $60 a month that we spend on the latest cable package or cell phone service could be used here in Guatemala to ensure a child gets to go to school. And who knows, through sponsoring a child, you might even make a new friend in the process!