Rainy reunion in Guatemala

Reunion Guatemala 2015

From left to right Lucy, Dorotea, Bernada, Mabilia, Claudia, Caitlin, Izumi


When it rains in Guatemala, it pours. Doing my best to stay dry, I scampered under a covered pathway toward the waiting cab but the strong breeze sprinkled tiny droplets on my face and arms anyway. Just a few feet to my right, heavy raindrops pummeled the ground and began to form puddles, rippling with energy. I had a moment of sympathy with the ground — my head was also pounding and body weary from a long week of work. But the ripples reminded me of why I was there and the important and rare opportunity I was given to see iLEAP’s participants in their community, each of them a raindrop, brimming with passion and energy and making waves after their time with us.

A few moments later, at our destination, Izumi and I stepped out of the cab, covered our heads, and splashed our way into the restaurant. I was immediately excited to see 2013 International Fellow (IF), Dorotea Gomez, already waiting for us. The three of us shared a long-awaited hug and took our seats, catching up while we waited for others. With each additional arrival bringing more warm embraces and shining smiles, the rain and headache became an afterthought. Bernarda (IF 2014) came in soaked to the brim from her walk to the restaurant but, as usual, she laughed it off. Mabi (IF 2010) quickly followed and informed us that Claudia (IF 2013) would join soon as she is in her hotel room waiting for medication to arrive – she was dealing with the early stages of a Chikunguya infection. Suddenly my headache seemed a little trivial. Lucy Luna (IF 2011), although from El Salvador, also came as she fortunately happened to be in Antigua for a conference. Not much later, Claudia arrived having received her treatment.

We were all present and, despite some of the graduates not having met one another, the iLEAP connection among everybody created a safe space of joy and honesty. We eagerly updated each other on changing politics within our countries, online dating experiences, new jobs, and improved current ones. Baby pictures were shown and the food and drinks kept coming. It was a circle of trust and belonging.

Before I realized it we were splitting desserts and packing our things. As we prepared to depart, I couldn’t help but think of this beautiful community we just created and how privileged I am to be with these amazing women.

Caitlin Terashima

Caitlin Terashima

Caitlin is a graduate of Seattle University, where she studied Humanities for Teaching and Spanish, and has a love of international travel. Her experience conducting research on the effects of gender for a micro-finance organization in Ghana, living and studying in El Salvador for four months, and on-going volunteering with a community development organization in Mexico have instilled in her a love of learning outside of her comfort zone and a passion for international community development work. The relationships she formed while abroad have shaped her life and passions, and reinforced within her the importance of relationships and community. In her free time, Caitlin loves baking and cooking for her loved ones, exploring, taking walks, and travelling.