Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Speed bumps: Guatemala Update 3

Another update from Olivia in Antigua, Guatemala, from June 13.

Everywhere we go in Guatemala, we encounter one thing.  Whether traveling the 40 minutes to Oasis, over an hour into Guatemala City, or just around Antigua, we are consistently jostled by a multitude of speed bumps. 

It's alarming at first. They have been installed everywhere- on cobblestones, on dirt roads, highways, and even the sidewalks tend to have them (not intentionally, but from erosion and long steps down to the street).

This seems a somewhat apt metaphor for the work here, and for getting things done in general. We do get things done, indeed the girls have walked through the entire show!, but it is bumpy. Our progress is often checked by 'Guatemalan time' (read: 5 minutes means 10-15 at least), by unforeseen details, by distracted/hyper/hungry/tired students, and by the sheer time it takes to get places.  Antigua is a perfect base, but it still takes travel time to get around.

I hope you aren't reading that this makes work slow and plodding.  On the contrary, between the minor bumps are beautiful patches of incredible creativity and productivity. The girls have an entire show, complete with musical transitions and a spoken-word style coda, and they are proud of what they have accomplished.   We are, too.  

These young women have a lot to say, and are saying it clearly with physical theatre, song, dance, rhythm, and physical images.  Each story has a message (not a massage, which was a minor mistranslation) that the ensemble chants together at the end of the parable.  The message are not, though, simplistic sentences of common sense advice.  These are complex messages, really calls to action for the community: to work together, to replace love with violence, to find their answers in the community using what they already have, and that unity is a crucial source of power.  Hearing the young women identify these messages, and shout them out together is an unbelievably powerful experience.

Rather, the minor bumps realign my own perception of the work. I cannot (despite my nature) sprint forward, but must be slow to anticipate the bumps.  The speed bumps ensure that I am taking care or myself and the others on the road with me. And in Guatemala, many of the roads definitely require that.

The philosophy students of Integral Heart Foundation in San Mateo.
Ok, I think I've beaten that metaphor to death. A quick update:

  • This week we led workshops for 76 4-6 year olds in a village outside Antigua. We played follow the leader- and all the little girls loved being bunnies and kittens, while the little boys focused on being snakes, bears, and monsters.  Ah, gender.
  • We also met some AWESOME artists at Caja Ludica (Pandora's Box) in Guate, who are running a physical theatre program for street kids.  This is a truly inspiring program (apparently that's the word of the day!)
  • Tomorrow we have a workshop with teenaged philosophy students!

Friday is the final performance for the girls at Oasis, and then Saturday we return to the States. I cant believe how time has flown.

See you soon!

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