We met with the teachers from the Educational Institute of Quichaya, them wanting to know about the current reality of Latin America, us with the desire to hear new words and voices that would inspire us to strengthen processes of social transformation.
So we decided to invite the participants to divide into 5 groups, two studied the “Plan Mesoamérica” banner and the other three the “Mesoamérica Resiste” banner. Some teachers showed interest in analyzing the processes of colonization that continue today in their territory, like the ways that small farmers become indebted through the economic and environmental policies of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Interamerican Development Bank, and World Trade Organization. It was much easier to explain and share stories with each other without any kind of manual, but through shared observation of the illustration and understanding how these policies affect us directly.
It was also illuminating for everyone to reflect on the consumer culture that we are so immersed in, and how we are not viewing critically what food we're eating or what culture we are consuming. While talking about the importance of the traditional market as a live seed bank, they told us that the Silvia market, known for its colorful diversity, isn't as strong anymore. They are seeing less and less local products and more products from afar, and say that this is a measure of what people are planting and producing, however we recognize that unlike other communities it still continues as a gathering space, of seeds, of local foods, and exchange of other products from the low lands.
In the birthing scene, all of the participants spoke of the importance of natural childbirth, and that these were medicinal plants. We asked the men which plants these were, some indigenous men knew and others didn't, but definitely the men who weren't from the community didn't know, though in Silvia (in the urban areas) midwives and their services are very much in demand! They began to talk amongst themselves about what these plants were, and what they meant by “cold”and “hot” foods.
For everyone it was important to talk about the assembly, a space that is still very important in some communities but that has been weakened, maybe by the abuse of some leaders, however the men and women of the community continued to defend it as the maximum authority, as the primary space for making decisions.
After analyzing, laughing, and crying “Mesoamérica Resiste” we watched the documentary “Minerita”, that tells the story of the mine in Potosí through the life stories of three women, and how they suffer much more than the men: to get by, to protect themselves from violence from the male miners at any moment. The female teachers were impacted and spoke of the berraquera (bravery and resilience) of these women, but they also talked about how this same situation happens in the community of Quichaya, how this violence against women keeps happening, many times as if it were something “normal” and it's not discussed as seriously as it should be.
Our intention, more than to “teach” was to share and listen to the words of people who are building community day to day, and well, we're not going to lie, not all teachers are involved in this, but at least to leave a spark of something in the hearts and minds of each person there, something of dignified rage.