Carmen

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If everyone had the opportunity to get an education, perhaps they would have a better understanding of our political reality. For example, in indigenous areas, there are more illiterate than literate people, and because of this, they don’t really understand. They don’t understand the sovereignty of the people – that the people grant power to governmental candidates – but they don’t understand that. So I would say we must educate all of the young people, so that they educate their children differently, and that way, we could fix something…Young people can make a change. They are the change.

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A Weekend in Santiago

I arrive in Santiago on Saturday around noon, pulling into the dock in a boat loaded with people. As soon as we dock, I see my usual lanchero, waiting to leave in his boat for the next trip to Panajachel. We say hello, as always, with a kiss on the cheek. “A trabajar?” he asks me. “Claro,” I respond with a smile, and head up from the dock to my old neighborhood, where I will be staying with my friend Madeleine from Sweden. I take a turn down a familiar shortcut and emerge right at the market’s entrance, where I stop to buy a few things to prepare for lunch – avocados from the lady on the steps are first on my list. Hers are always the biggest, greenest, and freshest, and priced at around 40 cents each. As I hand her the money and stuff the avocados in my backpack, I hear my name and turn around to see Yanil, my first Guatemalan friend. Yanil is 21 years old and has worked for the family I used to live with since she was seven. I almost don’t recognize her because she isn’t wearing her usual traje, instead dressed in a white button-up and black pants, running an errand for the restaurant where she is doing an internship for her studies to be a chef. We walk out of the market together, chatting, before parting ways. As I stop to buy some tomatoes, a familiar face smiles at me broadly and waves from across the street. It’s Dolores, my compañera from Natik, carrying a few bags of fruits and vegetables. I cross and hug her, we talk about her sons a bit, and she heads off to make them lunch. Just as I begin walking up the street, I see Candelaria, another Natik colleague, and her son buying fruit and go over and say hello, inquiring about Candelaria’s studies, as she’s just begun a Master’s program. She informs me that she just completed her first trimester of school and has the day off until they begin again next week. I round a corner and walk a few more blocks, where I bump into Chonita and Dora, two teachers from La Puerta Abierta Learning Center. They’ve just finished up an early stimulation class for infants and mothers and are headed home. And then I arrive at Madeleine’s, where I’m made to feel right at home, and begin preparing for my afternoon of work with Unlocking Silent Histories. Later, Carlos, the program leader assigned to Santiago meets me at my usual coffee shop, where I’m chatting with the owner, Juan, as I sip my latte, and then we head off to meet the group of young women we work with in the offices of ADECCAP. Later that night, I meet up with a few other friends for dinner, board games, and general hanging out: Edurne from Spain and her Guatemalteco boyfriend Jose Carlos, who now live in my old apartment, Chepe, a dentist from the city, Lilly, a recently-arrived intern at one of the local NGO’s, and Madeleine and her boyfriend Vano, a Santiago native. There working as usual is Juan, Dolores’ husband. The restaurant begins to close and I walk home with Madeleine, where we play Yahtzee late into the night. The next morning, Carlos and I meet again and go to run the program with our second Santiago group. We meet in the house of Diego, who was a friend of mine before he joined the program, and he introduces me to his parents and siblings. After a productive morning of filming on market day, we go our separate ways, and I walk to the central square with Tony and Domingo to watch a break-dancing competition. We sit and admire the agility of the performers as we continue talking about film and media production. I meet up with my friend Mike for lunch, who will soon be returning to the U.S., his Fulbright project completed. We update one another on our lives and plans over delicious food from the Posada, and then walk back to Xechivoy together. I stop by Madeleine’s to say goodbye, and start off toward the dock again. I run into Tono and Alex as they’re preparing to go for a run, and another friend Toño walks up as we talk. I haven’t seen any of them in ages, and we reminisce about old times and make plans to see each other again. And then I arrive at the dock, just as my usual lanchero is about to pull away. I hop in the back of the boat next to him, and I’m off to Panajachel again, feeling that Santiago will always be my home. Hasta la próxima, Santiago!