Meeting Elsa Lorena


Elsa Lorena and I bonded in the car listening to La Mega Mundial, one of the local Spanish radio stations here in Atlanta. The hit song right now is El Perdon. When the song came on, It was a moment when we both felt like we were back home in Guatemala, where there is family, work we’re passionate about, and tortillas.

We also spent a lot of time in the airport together. That’s a long and boring story, but to say we spent three days together and two were in an airport. With that and swapping stories over coffee, black beans, eggs and tortillas, I learned a little bit more about Elsa Lorena.

Elsa Lorena, who also goes by her second name (Lorena), is a public high school teacher in San Andres Semetebaj. I had the pleasure of knowing the institute where she works when I went to give an adolescent pregnancy workshop in May of this year. By coincidence we found out we were both there that day, but that her students were taking a test and not in the workshop.

IEB San Andres Semetebaj, May 2015  (Junior High School where Elsa works)

IEB San Andres Semetebaj, May 2015  (Junior High School where Elsa works)

Of course with my Americanisms in mind, I asked if they were in summer vacation yet. They are not. She is actually taking unpaid leave and may not have a job when she comes back. Finding a teaching position is very competitive in Guatemala, and oftentimes it is hard to even be able to work at a school within an hour of where you live, so it’s a big deal that she is HERE in the United States and potentially sacrificing a position that is conveniently located in the urban center of San Andres Semetebaj, where she lives.

And did we mention she’s expecting? She is just entering her second trimester! This will be her fourth child, which she is excited about. Lorena Guiselle is her oldest daughter and she has left two small children at home, just another sacrifice she’s made to be with her daughter during this time.  However, she is doing her best to not feel worried, because her husband says it isn’t good for her to be worried all the time. She’s willing to make the best of it though.

I wish she could contribute her own voice to this conversation, but later on when things settle down hopefully she will have a chance to write her own story. For now, its second hand, third person and the best I can do.