Monday, May 9, 2016

Robyn and Amalyah's Exclusive Goodbye Interview

Text by Amalyah Leader and Robyn Nielsen
Left: Amalyah reads with Andrea at the Family Support Center. She designed and led a number of fantastic activities for the kids in Llanos del Pinal. Right: Robyn wields a machete on a stove-building morning. Her background in global health drew her especially to safe stoves and nutri, where she distinguished herself in developing excellent educational materials. 
Amalyah and Robyn finished their three-month internships with Pop Wuj as General Projects Coordinators last Friday. Luckily, before they left, an anonymous Xela journalist got the chance to sit down with the two and ask the pressing questions we've all been dying to ask.

If you were a salad, what type of dressing would you have?
Robyn: An organic, rosemary-infused, 100-year-old Italian balsamic reduction with a hint of lavender honey harvested from free-range bees. Or ranch. 
Amalyah: Avocado, lemon, garlic, olive oil dressing.

What was your favorite project to work on and why? 
R: The safe stove project. From seeing young children in the nutrition program with respiratory problems and standing in smoke-filled kitchens during the interview process, it's obvious how much of a positive impact the project has. Particularly in terms of improving respiratory health among women and children. I enjoyed being a part of the whole process from being trained to build stoves, conducting interviews, hearing the women's stories, material buying day, stove meeting day, the stove benefit dinner, and each time we went out to build. I like working with my hands to create something and enjoy the comradery that building stoves creates. Also, there's pretty views from people's roofs when it's time to install the chimney. 

What is your fondest memory of being at Pop Wuj?
A: The process of meeting all of the women in the current stove group to building stoves with them. From interviewing them to finishing their stove, I got to listen to many women share stories of incredible strength and courage. There is always an immense amount of laughter and good humor building stoves with Carmelina and the families. And two of our interns officially got married in Llanos! (Congrats Adam and Chris!!) These will always be happy memories to remember. 

When you're not at Pop Wuj working, what are you most likely doing?
A: Sleeping, eating, or climbing volcanos. 
R: Eating chicharrones and standing in the cheese section of Paiz. Simultaneously. 

Favorite hideaway places in Xela?
A: Baul!! It’s so hard to find a place to be in nature alone, but I love climbing up in the early mornings. 
R: I have a secret balcony. 

Favorite Thursday night dinner?
R: Mojitos. And burritos. 
A: Gotta agree, those mojitos were pretty good.

Is there life after Pop Wuj?
R: Pop Wuj is life.

So what’s next?
R: First I’m traveling around Guatemala with my mother, and then I’m going to hang out in Belize and then I will be visiting Cuba. Then I will return home to Seattle for a job with a travel company.
A: I’m going to stick around Xela, you’ll probably see me around. I’m going to teach some English and might teach flamenco. And I’m going to study Spanish again! And hype myself up for going back to college this fall.

Editor's Note: Even though they can be ridiculous, we're grateful to Robyn and Amalyah for their three months of hard work in the projects and wish them all the best. We'll miss you!

Know someone who might be interested in committing three months to support Pop Wuj's social, educational, environmental, and health projects? Check out EntreMundos, which facilitates our internship program.

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