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Bethel Students Serve in Guatemala

20230327 165310 web bu guatemala group

Bethel students ensured Guatemalan children have health smiles while enjoying service-learning experiences.

by Bethel University

20230327 165310 web bu guatemala group

Six Bethel University students helped ensure Guatemalan children had healthy smiles March 5-11 as part of a Global Studies collaboration with Cumberland Presbyterian missionaries. Led by Stacie Freeman, director of Bethel’s Global Studies program, and Dr. Julie Hill, co-founder of a new nonprofit for student-staffed travel service projects, the trip included a mix of compassionate ministry and culture-sharing.

Students who participated are Jacey McClure, Isabelle Wright, Chloe Isbell, Andrew Carpenter, Gracelyn Eaves and Alex Fansler. Adult supporters were Joel and Teresa Washburn, Veronica Perkins and LeAnne Moore. In Guatemala, the group worked with local Cumberland Presbyterian missionaries John and Esperanza Correa and Socorro Pejendino to provide dental hygiene products and fluoride treatments to 150 students in a Guatemalan primary school.

At the primary school, the Bethel students taught the children how to brush their teeth, provided them with a free toothbrush and toothpaste, and administered a fluoride treatment to each child. The Bethel students then examined the children’s teeth with a Spanish translator documenting each child’s name and location of cavities. The local dentist will provide follow-up care. With the generous support of community members, the Bethel group donated surplus dental hygiene products to the local dentist to help other people in the country.

Students visited a second location - an after-school feeding program, where they repeated their task of dental hygiene.

The group also interacted with students at both schools in leading drum circles with a focus on developing communication and leadership skills through listening and creative music-making. These activities, led by Dr. Julie Hill with the assistance of both student and community member participants, were made possible by the generous donation of percussion instruments by REMO, Inc.

In addition to the service-learning work, the students enjoyed visiting the historic city of Antiqua with its cobblestone streets, Mayan ruins, and many architectural structures from Mayan and Colonial times.

A boat trip across beautiful Lake Atitlan, created by a volcano, led to a private home, where the students witnessed the making of garments and blankets by a Mayan master weaver of the Kaqchikel people and her daughter, who continues the tradition of the laborious work on a loom.

For more information about the Bethel Global Studies program contact Stacie Freeman at or visit the Global Studies webpage.

This article was submitted by Joel Washburn of the McKenzie Banner. To view the full article online, visit this link.