We will continue to make our experiences present on campus through GLASS (Grinnell Latin American Solidarity Society), a group all 10 trip members have founded and that has met 1-2 times a week upon our return. As a group, our members have supported Latin American activities on campus, contributed to ongoing discussions of migration, and presented our trip to groups of students and adults (ranging from local girl scouts to the division of student affairs). We are constructing a 10 day photography exhibit of our trip and informational fair by collaborating with groups with whom we’ve began to establish relationships. As a part of a long term goal, GLASS will continue the organization of School of the Americas trip that has been done in the past by multiple groups (and historically the job of SOL -Student Organization of Latinos and Latina, increase awareness and sensitivity towards migration issues in addition to our more short-term goals. Those goals include screening a documentary through FILMS related to immigration and connecting that to our guest speaker, Eli, a leader of Group Cajola. We have also been working through SPARC to create a calendar or book of our 10 days that makes our art active versus passive. So the publication will not just be Guatemala at a glance, but Guatemala in the larger context of migration, exploitation, bravery, hope, etc. that will include photos and some writing. Through collaboration with pioneer diversity counsel we will throw an outdoor graffiti show, whose topic this year is political art, to continue the discussion of arts role as active. Finally, we are working with continuing our relationships with the fair-trade organizations in Guatemala by collaborating with the women’s weaving co-op Y’abal on our senior stoles, and connecting students directly to coffee farmers from Nueva Alianza to highlight direct trade versus indirect.
Today, we met several speakers who hold different ideologies in recovering the dark history of Guatemala. While I find those conversations interesting and overwhelming, I also think that it is more valuable to share the conversation I had with one of the local delegates with you since other members will probably be sharing their opinions on those topics.
This local delegate works for a non-profit organization through the accompaniment program and accompany the local activists in various social activities. While they are prohibited to engage in any public protests, she, and other accompaniers, are key people to inform the international audience about Guatemalans’ activism. I have always felt confused on the role of those foreigners who help to fight for social justice at a country where is not connected with their family history. Further, I was not able to understand why did those countries welcome a person who did not experience the suffrage to participate in their movement. Therefore, the local delegate helped me to understand better about the foreign workers’ special role, as well as the U.S. government’s promise of their safety because of their U.S. citizenship. The Guatemalan social activists do not have to concern about the safety of those workers as much, and therefore could utilize their advantages (ex. language skill, connection in the U.S.) to continue changing the world with greater impacts.
Despite the foreign workers are under the protection of the U.S. government and have an opportunity to stay in Guatemala for years, they could face a life threatening danger and force to leave the country immediately. The delegate told me that during the genocide trial recently, the government scheduled to ask those foreign workers to leave the country. I assume that it was because the government did not want them to share the truth to the world. Luckily, that did not happen and she continues working for her organization till today.
Promoting social justice as a foreigner in Guatemala is an especially arduous mission to complete. I thereby revere and appreciate their dedication to help fighting for a better future with the Guatemalans.