Saturday, January 11th 2014
I realize I write a lot, and writing these posts actually make me anxious because I fear I will forget to record something. I’ve started (as of yesterday) sketching as I take notes, in hopes that I will remember more when I sit down to type these posts. It is not only the Grinnell pressure of knowing they gave us money and they expect results, because I personally believe the group and I are very capable of creating amazing events when we come back. Instead, I worry that I will lose this passion I feel for migration, historical/cultural importance, and general Latin American issues. I worry that I will go back to Grinnell, and without a lot to look back on, that I will go back to the bubble and just focus on me and my studies. It is important to me to be well-rounded, and I am beginning to brainstorm how I can reject or stray away from the individualistic culture I am apart of in the States.
Enough of my rambling; today we visited Cajola, the village both Ubaldo and Israel are from. Eli, another member of the community studying Anthropology in the Guatemala City, introduced us to the importance of preserving culture and language in his town. To put things in perspective, around 9-10 thousand people from Cajola live in the U.S. out of 17 thousand. Eli mentions the importance of coming back, which he states doesn’t happen often. However, more and more those that pass away in the United States are brought back to be buried in Cajola. This reflects the importance the community is placing on being with ones loved ones in ones land. The community would help each other if a family can’t afford to bring the body back, etc. The preservation of culture and language, no sexual health education, extreme poverty that is hidden under the guise of Remittance houses (houses built with money sent back from the states most of which are empty) are important to the Cajola group (Groupo de Cajola). In fact, if the people and properties don’t look poor, it is the “lack of knowledge,” Eli points out, that “makes us poor.”
After talking with him we visited the community egg farm, the pre-school, and the weaving co-op. The egg farm that we visited was actually the second time around they were running. It took a lot of initiative from the women, and faith in their own skills to make this second time around work. They are almost completely self-sustainable now and their eggs are very popular in Cajola and Xela. In fact, they often run out before they can purchase them for themselves. When another egg co-op came into town and were able to sell the eggs for cheaper the women were worried. However, eventually the newer naive co-op went out of business and the women’s business furthered. The pre-school teaches taught based on what the kids want to learn or are driven to do. They teach in their native language Mayamam, in addition to some Castellano to balance it out. The teachers spoke on the disparity between the people of Cajola and the speaking/writing/reading of Mayamam. However, they do not believe Spanish/Castellano should not taught, instead they emphasize the importance of balance and preserving their culture and language through education. Additionally, they pointed out how parents don’t know how to play with their children, and often aren’t involved enough in their education. I’ve always had the support and plenty involvement from my parents, and I do believe that has helped me in my education. I found it refreshing that they acknowledged this problem and go out of their way to teach the parents how to be involved in their children’s education.
Jonathan mentioned, before the documentary, how complete he felt connecting his art to his other passion, a sentiment that really resonates with me. I have been more artistically motivated in Guatemala then I have in the past 7 months. MORE ON THAT AT A LATER TIME