This past month Lee and I led our first donor trip with two of Semilla Nueva’s most involved participants state side. Throughout the week conversations revolved around development and global community and we facilitated many discussions between our visitors, our Guatemalan staff and participating community members. As the third party and the translator, it’s beautiful to watch these conversations unfold and see equal curiosity and engagement as two people from different backgrounds interact with one another. It’s also exciting to be able to teach someone else about a place I feel so strongly about.
I have been lucky enough to visit Guatemala on three different occasions and during each stay my relationship with this country has evolved. My first trip was a whirlwind three-week visit where I fell in love with the beautiful volcanoes, the food, and the people. I spoke very little Spanish, but still left my trip feeling as though I had a pretty good understanding of the place that I had passed through. When I arrived for my second stay I felt confident that I would be able to dig deeper into the local reality based on my previous experience. My first day in country I got off of my bus at the wrong stop, and fell on my butt trying to take my overly packed suitcase from the guy handing it to me from the top of the bus. The bus pulled away with many of the Guatemalan passengers looking concerned and slightly amused by the gringa left sitting in the dirt.
The rest of my five months felt pretty similar to that first day; there were many incidents where I proverbially fell on my rear. I stumbled through conversations trying to understand the context and laughed at jokes that I truthfully didn’t understand. I’ve now been working with Semilla Nueva for the last five months and the end of June marks the longest time I have spent in Guatemala. Although I still sometimes have to fake understanding a punch line, I feel much more integrated in the community that I’m living in. My use of Guatemalan slang has become much more fluid and I can happily say I have friends and family here.
This building of global empathy is something that is defining my generation. Due to globalization we interact with our international counterparts daily, whether it’s in the form of wearing a shirt that was made in Cambodia, eating produce from Mexico or chatting with someone on the opposite end of the world via Facebook. What is daunting but also exciting now is that we can define what those interactions will be, whether we will simply consume and take from the globalized system that we live in or whether we will try to give back and leave a positive impact as well.
As Laurie reflected after returning home from Guatemala, “I keep remembering Rosaura, Trini, Cruz and Noe’s family. It’s like this: if it were in your power to help a friend or family member, wouldn’t you help? Say you could connect your friend with an idea that makes their life more secure or prevents them from leaving their family to find work (risking their life to cross two borders), wouldn’t you do that? It’s not just about a vision of a better future, it’s about friends.”
As an organization, we work within communities building relationships with farmers and their families. If you are already an active member of our global family you know how much we have appreciated your support. If you have yet to get involved with Semilla Nueva and are looking to widen your circles of understanding and create a positive impact in your global community we encourage you to join our family through support or even by visiting us during one of the community work trips. We’re waiting for you with brazos abiertos.