Building friendships, fostering understanding
A Honeymoon Like No Other
Like most newlyweds, Cris and Lynda Sidell couldn’t wait to go on their honeymoon. The marriage ceremony under their belts, they could now relax and start planning their new life together. But unlike most people—who opt for a beach vacation or sight-seeing in Europe—Cris and Lynda decided to take a service trip to Guatemala.
Finding a Kindred Spirit
“I just couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Cris says. A high school teacher in Dayton, Ohio, Cris first traveled with CoEd four years earlier. The experience changed his life. He took what he learned about Guatemala’s culture, its people, and their struggle against poverty back to his classroom. “It made me a better teacher and a better person,” he says. Then he met Lynda and was delighted to discover that she shared his dual passion for service and education. “When Cris first brought up the idea of going to Guatemala for our honeymoon, I knew this would be a great way to start our new life together.”
Sharing Their Gifts
In lieu of wedding gifts, Cris and Lynda asked their friends and family to make donations to CoEd projects. They felt they already had enough to live a happy life. Why not spread their good fortune around by helping their new friends in Guatemala?
We live in a global world. What happens in other countries affects us at home. As such, we must continue to increase awareness, build relationships, and strengthen bonds with our neighbors, including those who live on the margins of society. The Bridges Program increases understanding and knowledge of global challenges and connects people in the U.S. and beyond with friends in Guatemala.
How the Program Works
Bridges has five program areas, including:
- Guatemala Service Learning Trips. Cooperative for Education staff conduct three service learning trips each year, involving 25-50 participants per trip from the U.S., Canada, and other countries. The tours take travelers to Mayan communities in rural Guatemala to visit CoEd programs and meet the students who benefit from them. Each trip incorporates volunteer activities, cultural enrichment programs, and personal interaction with students at program schools.
Learn more about our life-changing tours.
- Educational Presentations. CoEd U.S. staff and volunteers deliver interactive multimedia presentations to schools, churches, civic organizations, and individuals about life in Guatemala, the role of education in poverty reduction, and the ways they can get involved with our organization. Learn more about the CoEd Speakers Bureau.
- School to School Partnerships. Grade-school and high-school students from North America are matched with a sister school in Guatemala. The North American students work together to financially support an educational project for the Guatemalan school. In exchange, the Guatemalan students send letters and further information about their communities, fostering international friendship and a culture of generosity across national borders. Lesson plans for teachers and educational presentations by CoEd staff and volunteers are also available. Learn more about how your class can partner with a school in Guatemala.
- Educational resources. You can explore our website to:
- Find statistics on Guatemala
- Browse travel information
- See stunning photos that capture life in Guatemala
- Watch videos of our programs in action
- Visit our media and newsletter archive
- Request more information
- Join our mailing list by entering your email address into the box at the bottom of this page
- Global partnerships. CoEd remains committed to sharing knowledge, expertise, and best practices with other organizations dedicated to improving the lives of our global neighbors in need. We routinely partner with other groups in Guatemala to help build local capacity and strengthen the systems and services within communities that create opportunities for all.
To date, approximately 784 people have traveled to Guatemala on CoEd project tours. 100% percent of people who go on CoEd’s project tours share what they’ve learned with others within the year following their trip. 100% of teachers in our School to School Partnerships say that their students plan to participate in some sort of volunteering as a result of the increased awareness imparted by the program.