Celebrating the Equinox
Dear Friends and Family of DESGUA,
We were so pleased to receive e-mails from you after our last posting and now we invite you to give us your feedback and comments right here on our Globalgiving page. The work of DESGUA would not be possible without our broad network of supporters and collaborators. We need your help to spread the word about our work. You can help DESGUA and the School of Community Organizers by leaving us your thoughts and responses here on our page.
We have the pleasure of sharing many new exciting program updates about the work of DESGUA. We initiated a new set of capacity-building workshops on Community Economic Initiatives as part of the Social Enterprise Administration and Management program of the School of Community Organizers. These new workshops are designed for Mayan youth from rural areas who desperately need entrepreneurial skills to work toward the equitable and integral development of their communities. The first set of workshops took place in our offices in Quetzaltenango last month, where youth learned to identify their individual skills, their communities’ needs, and received a dynamic introduction to economic concepts.
As Clara, one program participant, stated: “I never realized that the knowledge I have about growing potatoes and corn and going to the market can be applied to the administration of an economic project.” Carla, like many of the youth in our programs, is a returned immigrant. After trying to make her way to the United States on her own and facing the harsh realities of the deportation system, Carla has had to return to her small agricultural community, where opportunities are far and few between. These new workshops are ideal for youth like Carla who aspire to make a difference for their families in their own communities, and need support.
At DESGUA we have also been very busy with the Cultural Empowerment and Mayan Worldview section of the School of Community Organizers. Youth and spiritual guides have engaged in a number of meetings about the science and philosophy of Mayan Cosmovision and have been participating actively in a number of ceremonies. Shortly after co-coordinating the celebrating of the equinox in the mountains of Totonicapán, Carlos Escalante, our intercultural coordinator, had the privilege of touring the United States to promote our cultural work. Carlos visited universities and met with community groups in Chicago, Terre Haute (Indiana), Madison, San Francisco and Los Angeles, doing educational presentations entitled “Mayan Cultural Politics and the Guatemalan Dream: Understanding Mayan Cosmovision at the Intersection of Politics, Spirituality and the Material World”. We are optimistic that the new international relationships that DESGUA is building will strengthen our work in various program areas including the School of Community Organizers.
In addition, an important part of DESGUA’s work is to host delegations from the United States. These delegations provide spaces for people from the U.S. to learn about Guatemalan history, culture, and the effects of economic trade policies and migration on local communities. This spring DESGUA hosted the Border Studies Program delegation from Earlham College for the third consecutive year. This program brings students who are working in organizations along the US-Mexico border to Guatemala to learn about the structural causes of migration and local solutions. During the delegation we had the privilege of bringing the students to meet various community groups and amazing leaders with encouraging conferences about community organizing. This model, where the North learns from the South, is at the base of our philosophy at DESGUA. As part of the trip we organized a cultural and educational exchange with a group of young women from San Martin Sacatepéquez. Participants shared their stories and dreams in a one-on-one setting. Both groups received insight into the lives of others, and it was an important opportunity to bridge the cultural gap. The young women are eager to participate in more cultural and educational exchanges with local and international groups.
The work of the School of Community Organizers continues to grow and develop as we bring together capacity-building workshops, cultural empowerment and Mayan Cosmovision, and bi-national educational opportunities. We are excited to share that we have a new initiative collaborating with a group of women weavers. DESGUA is offering a class on the symbolism of textiles called “Weaving our Identity” to a group of 23 Mayan women. New initiatives like this class would not be possible without the leadership and commitment of local leaders as well as the generous support from our international partners. We are so grateful for your solidarity and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Wishing you the best,
Clara Participant in Economic Initiatives Workshop
Mayan Cultural Politics University Tour
Students of the Spring 2012 Border Studies Program