June 2003

Dear all --

WOW !! What a great winter we had !! Lots of people came down to Guatemala (after a REALLY slow 2002) and I feel like we had some of our most successful classes ever. Every year we get more and more repeaters, and I'm always thrilled to see those familiar faces. Half of Steve Northup's photo class has already signed up again for next year, so he (and us, too, I guess) must be doing something right.

Probably the biggest change for us business-wise has been THAT I FINALLY FIGURED OUT HOW TO CHANGE THE PICTURES ON THE WEB PAGE !!!! Shawna Gibbs, one of our past participants, was generous and patient enough to explain a few 'how to ' to me and voila... Of course, there's heaps more I'd still like to do with it (like have a place to show student and faculty work - leave comments on books you've read re Guatemala, communicate with each other - foster that nice sense of community that seems to form w groups)... But, poco a poco as we say.

Edith Cortez, our Guatemalan assistant, has been a fabulous asset to our program. She's been with us for over a year now and she's very helpful, cheerful, bright and I hope she stays forever. So many of our other wonderful Guatemalan friends - Lidia, Pancho and their children, Zoila and her family, Calixta who shares the Mayan ceremony with us, David and Suzi up at Posada Santiago, have become such an integral part of our program. I wonder if I should make changes so that our returnees and faculty won't get bored, but as one of our participants, Thomas Allan, recently said for his evaluation -- "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

And not making big changes at this stage of the game, helps keep my life more manageable. Tommy turned four this past winter and I can now see that there may be something to life after mere survival (is there??). Life is still full, but it feels much more doable. The kids are doing well. Jessenia had a fabulous teacher here in Minneapolis and is moving onto 3rd grade (she repeated 2nd after a tough year). She'll be doing gymnastics and summer school this summer. Tommy is 'puro nene' - totally a boy. Time to get him into sports... he runs, kicks, climbs, picks up sticks and shoots, throws and is very anxious to play soccer, baseball - whatever - as long as it involves action and the above things.

Last, but not least, I'd like to ask some help for Nancy McGirr's Out of the Dump (now called Fotokids) project. Nancy gives a presentation to most of our photograpy workshops and I joined her board this past year. After 10 years of solid growth, (she pays school tuition for almost 200 kids now) the project is close to closing the doors. As everyone knows, the economy has been very tough on non-profits. So, she'd like to visit a few major US cities this fall to give presentations and, well, yes, fundraise. Can any of you host her or think of places she could give presentations?? Or possibly a photography exhibit?? She's thinking of Santa Fe, Washington DC, Boston, NYC - the big places. Any brilliant ideas?? And of course if you want to just send her some money, that would be good, too. Look up www.fotokids.org for all the info, or you can contact me.

So, we send our best regards and warm thoughts to all of you who have joined us in Guatemala over the years. I hope you have a wonderful, restful and creative summer. I also hope and pray that the we of the world somehow manage to forgive each other, as people and as countries, for all the wrongs and disasters and then somehow manage to embark on a course of world peace. Wouldn't that be marvelous !!!

Ever hopefully, .... and hoping, too, that we see you again soon in Guatemala !!

Abracos grande de Liza, Jessenia and Tommy boy