In March 2013 the Student Organization of Latin@s (SOL) applied to the 2013-2014 co-curricular travel grant in hopes of an opportunity to travel to Guatemala to work with the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) during the 2014 winter break. After a rigorous selection process SOL was awarded the co-curricular travel grant. Through an additional internal application process the trip co-leaders (myself and 2 students) selected 7 additional SOL members to attend the trip with the agreement that this would be a year-long commitment to the group. The trip will occur from Jan 6-16, 2014.
SOL chose to work with NISGUA because of its focus on linking people in the U.S. and Guatemala in the grassroots global struggle for justice, human dignity and respect for the Earth while aiming at the long term goal of improving Guatemala-U.S. relations. SOL members believe these goals reflect those of SOL as a group dedicated to addressing these issues as well as Grinnell College’s values of social justice. Additionally, Grinnell Alumnus, Jenny Dale ’06, has collaborated with NISGUA for many years and will serve as an in country coordinator for the trip. Jenny has been a dedicated group member in the planning and educational sessions SOL has created in preparation for the trip.
More specifically, during the trip, SOL will engage in a critical service learning opportunity to experience first-hand the impact of “globalization and migration” on the communities native to Guatemala and to the United States. During the trip, SOL will visit 3 destinations which include Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala City, and Antigua Guatemala. The three destinations will allow SOL participants the opportunity to learn in both an urban and rural setting and work with Guatemala’s indigenous population. The trip will include walking tours of each area, working with Youth Art and Culture Organizations (H.I.J.O.S.), a Women’s Weaving Cooperatives, Indigenous Community Resistance and Migration Discussions, and the Nueva Alianza Community Coffee Cooperative to name a few. The diversity of site visits while in Guatemala will allow participants to gain a understanding of the interconnected personal and systemic factors that impact Guatemala’s indigenous populations and Guatemala’s ever changing economic and political landscape.
As SOL’s mission statement states, SOL aims “to educate the campus community about the Latino community in the United States.” The co-curricular travel grant will allow SOL to experience external issues that affect the Latino community from a global perspective. Therefore, SOL will strive to make the most of this experience to bring that information back to campus and to create awareness for Grinnell’s campus community.
The photo below is our first group taken together after a 10 session education preparation curriculum for the trip. A couple of students Skyped in from their study abroad locations (Washington DC, Budapest) to join in on these bi-weekly meetings. We left a sub zero degree Iowa to start our journey together…Hope you enjoy following our experiences!!!!
Left to Right Top Row
Gabe Barela, James Tiffany, Martin Estrada, Jason Camey, Enrique Romero
Left to Right Bottom Row
Kiyan Ng, Tanya Santiago, Marlu Abarca, Amy Flores, Cassandra Miller