Sunday, December 27, 2009

January Meeting?

Tree Planting - Guatemala
Planting Trees

Several people have suggested that we meet sometime in January to get to know each other and decide on how we want A2 Friends of Guatemala to run and what we want to do.

I suggest we meet sometime on a Tues. or Wed. evening mid month, and I am open to suggestions.

Please email me if you are interested in meeting.  john (at), I'd like to hear what works for the most people.

We could meet at a coffee shop or the NEW Center, the nonprofit space on N. Main in Ann Arbor where ATC has offices. If people are interested in NEW,  I can check on the availability of conference space.

Other news:  Ben from ATC is off to Guatemala mid January.  In Feb. ATC is working with a group of students from the University of Michigan BLUELab to design a solar power option for a tech-school on Lake Atitlan + take the first steps to design a "green" preschool addition for the Asturias Academy in Xela.

ATC will be back in Guatemala over the summer looking for office space and more.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Great First Meeting!

It was great to see everyone on Wed.  Steve's talk about the Asturias Academy was very moving.  I'm really impressed at how much good can be done on such a small budget.  One of the figures that stands out in my mind is that the Asturias Academy runs on about $8000 per month and provides a first rate education to 300 students.

I've received emails from several people who attended the meeting and several who couldn't make it due to the weather or due to lack of power.  (garage door couldn't open w/o power)

I am going to put together a mailing list + a very simple newsletter.  If you would like to contribute to this website, the newsletter or if you would like to share your experiences in Guatemala please let me know.  A contribution could be as simple as a photo or two and a short description.  If you have a Flickr page with Guatemala photos lets share it! 

One suggestion I received is to have an informal MeetUp sometime in January or early Feb.  We might meet at a coffee shop or I could arrange for the conference room here at the NEW Center on N. Main street.  The MeetUp would be to find out a bit more about each other and what we want to do with A2 Friends of Guatemala. 

We are off to a good start.


John Barrie

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tonight Dec. 9th, 7:00 PM 1420 Hill Street

Football at Asturias

Tonight the Ann Arbor Friends of Guatemala will get together at 1420 Hill Street at 7:00 PM to hear Steve Mullaney talk about the Asturias Academy, a nonprofit school in Guatemala that takes in very low income kids and provides an exceptional education.  The school is tri-lingual, K'Che, Spanish and English. 

On my visits to the school I was amazed to see so many children happily engaged in their education.  The greeting from the students is a joint "hello, how are you and we are pleased to meet you" in all three languages.  You really have to experience it. 

There is some parking behind the meeting house and more on the side streets. 

My cell in case you need last minute directions:  John Barrie 734.717.6325

Thanks, and hope to see you all tonight!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Important Updates

Steve Mullaney's Talk Wed. Dec. 9th at 7:00 PM is looking good. (1420 Hill St. Ann Arbor, the Friends Meeting House)  We have a few Facebook posts saying they will attend and we are getting a good number of emails directly from this site!  See the post below for more details. 

We recently got this:
My name is Sonya Zumbiel and I live in Cincinnati.  I wanted to first congratulate you all on getting this group off the ground!  That is so exciting!  I also wanted to pass along our local group's website if it can be of any assistance to you.  Our group has been together (Friends Through Guatemalan Adoption) for about 6 years and are still going strong.  You can see our site at and let me know if I can answer any questions at all.

I also want to say how excited I am that you are starting with educational opportunities on giving back.  That is a huge component of our group as well.  We do many projects aimed at supporting non-profits in Guatemala as well as planning mission trips back to Guatemala.  You can see all of this on the site.

Right now we have our Holiday Giving Back Project going that is in its 5th year and people from all over the US support the effort!  Last year donors from 22 states gave.  I wanted to see if you would pass it along if possible as an option for holiday giving.  I have attached a flyer about it.

I am also a board member for Behrhorst Partners for Development in Guatemala ( which is a non-profit that has existed for over 40 years in Guatemala doing basic community development and infrastructure work (water projects, stoves, malnutrition work, etc...).  I would be more than happy to venture north if you ever want to host an event about the work of Behrhorst.  Our daughter's neurologist was in Ann Arbor for years (just moved to Eastern PA) so we are very used to that trip!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lets Get Together Dec. 9th!


I've been talking with several local Ann Arbor area people about our work in Guatemala and I've found a lot of interest in staying in contact with the country and the cultures of this beautiful, largely indigeneous country.

I have heard from travelers, ex Peace Corps workers and a lot of families who have adopted children from Guatemala who want to maintain a meaningful connection with the country.   

My wife Karen and I have invited Steve Mullaney of the Asturias Academy, a nonprofit school in Quetzaltenango (aka Xela, pronounced Shayla).  Steve will be here Dec. 9th at 7:00 pm to present their work with low income kids in Xela.  The venue is the Friends Meeting House at 1420 Hill St Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3106.  Please feel free to call me, John Barrie at 734.668.4811 for more details.

The Astu­rias Aca­demy currently ser­ves appro­xi­ma­tely 300 stu­dents from var­ying back­grounds: indi­ge­nous, non-indigenous, poor, wor­king class and middle class. The Academy’s curri­cu­lum is based on the popu­lar edu­ca­tion theory of  Bra­zi­lian edu­ca­tor Paulo Freire, in which sys­tems of injus­tice are con­fron­ted and trans­for­med on the basis of all as teachers and lear­ners. The Aca­demy has two main mis­sions: get ALL Gua­te­ma­lan chil­dren in school, and break cyc­les of poverty through education.

The school also has a strong ecological theme to their teaching.

This is a get to know you meeting.  Donations to the Asturias Academy will be accepted but we really want to see the Ann Arbor/Guatemala community get together for educational and cultural purposes a few times per year.

If you are interested in attending, please email me, john(at)

If you would like child care please be sure to call me ahead of time so I can arrange for some high school students to help out.

We will be serving simple refreshments, tea, juice and cookies.  If anyone wants to help out with snacks please contact me.