Guatemala: How important is the zoo anyway?

By Paula Bohland

What are your best memories of school? Mine are of my class going on field trips to the zoo and museums. It was fun to get away from the school building but the real fun was being able to SEE dinosaurs in a museum, play with science concepts, experience lions roaring at the zoo and touch sea urchins at the aquarium.

Since most of us do learn best by experience, these excursions reinforced classroom learning. In fact, to this day I remember how much lions eat, how to tell if a snake is venomous, and what the first plane designed by the Wright Brothers looked like.

Most of us have similar memories of school field trips and special class opportunities. GRACES is working to assist the children attending Escuela Integrada in obtaining their class outing memories. The annual educational or food sponsorship funds do not allow for these kinds of trips or experiences. If we are going to do this, we need to provide additional support to the teachers and classrooms so that excursions and special opportunities can be provided.

This year GRACES started offering a Classroom Sponsorship. The sponsorship provides funds for the teacher’s salary, allows for special activities for each child in the classroom, provides a classroom computer and many more interactive learning opportunities to occur in and out of the classroom.

Classroom sponsorships are often provided by a business, church or family group. For instance, St Mary’s Parish in New Mexico committed to sponsoring the Kindergarten class. They know they are impacting the lives of an ENTIRE classroom of children and really love having that special relationship with that class. When their mission team comes to visit, they focus on that classroom, the teacher, playing with the kindergarten kids and even have the option of going on one of the field trips with the kids while in Guatemala.

For more information about sponsoring a classroom at Escuela Integrada, contact Paula Bohland at


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