A personal reflection written win my journal on Day 45

              Just because I know the other world (The West) and have experienced it, does that make this world harder for me than for the people living here? What are their daily thoughts and aspirations? Everyone here, Anthony, Victor and Rosa included, always seem to be smiling and content; But I feel they must strive to progress, to better their lives, and attain comforts in the same way that I do. I feel like we often use the excuse that ignorance is bliss when referring to poverty. They don’t know what life in America is like so have nothing to compare the difficulties of their life to. While this might be true in some cases, I’m believing less and less that this excuse holds water. And even if they don’t know exactly how life in America could be, does that give this excuse any more legitimacy? Anthony and Augustine work in Panajachel, surrounded by consumerism and western culture on every corner. Even Chino and the kids watch TV at Dona Marias or Anacelis, where they are blasted with images of a world far apart from their own. Technology and Globalization have made knowledge widespread on an unforeseeable scale. Even as I sit here in the internet cafe copying this blog, the kids in this rural Mayan town are crowded around the computer next to me stealing cars and accepting missions on their cell phones playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The desire to progress and to provide happiness for your loved ones is human nature, and exists no less amongst poorer families than it does amongst the better off, both here and in the US.

            In these terms, the great divide between us and them, the west and the rest, is not as vast as is suggested in my development economics books. Yes the income gaps are paramount, but we should not forget that the humanity we share in common is overarching. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon hanging out with Anthony and his friends, telling stories of “the good old days” and poking fun at each other. While forced to take on an air of responsibility to look after their families, Anthony and his buddies are still just guys in their early 20s, not so different from me and the boys.  

              The conversations turn difficult for me when they begin asking about life in the United States, how much it costs to get there and if they would be able to find a job. What do I tell them? While half of my heart wants to tell them to stay here with their families because they live such a beautiful and uncorrupted lifestyle, my second half wants to help them progress in any way I can, to encourage them to follow their dreams and seek a better future.

               Would Anthony really have a better life if he came to the US though? Here, he is a respected member of the community with friends and family abound and a stable job. If he tries to leave, not only is the route by Coyote expensive, but it’s a treacherous 10-15 day long journey to a foreign land where he would be isolated by the language and lack of family. In the end, the decision is obviously not up to me, but my thoughts about bridging the divide between these two worlds are ever increasing, one shared smile, laugh, and conversation at a time.  
Damian Nance
7/30/2010 12:28:04

Chris, I have watched your videos and read your blogs and those of Zach, Sean and Ryan over the past 6 weeks in fascination and awe. This has not only been a life-changing trip for you and your friends, but has had a profound effect on all who have read your words or watched your incredibly professional videos. I congratulate you all and will be the first in line for slow-cooked rice, beans, lard, and home-made corn tamalitos when you return - lord knows there is enough wooden planking lying around the house these days for a fire!

Looking forward to forthcoming radish recipes.

Damian.

PS Sorry about the previous comment, it seems to have left before I had actually written anything!

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victoria
7/30/2011 08:00:17

i just wanted to make a note: America is a continent, not a country. Guatemala is part of America!
Do not use the word America to reffer to United States...it kind of ruins your excellent blog

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