Right when I got to the small city of Chajul, Guatemala I instantly thought to myself that I wish I had more time to be there. The reason I thought this was because I knew if I wanted to get a great experience out of the trip, I was going to need a lot more time than a week because of all the obstacles I was going to have to overcome. Now when I mention experience, I am not talking about a tourist aspect of it, seeing the best sites or going to the best clubs, I was looking at trying to get the best information, feel of how things ticked, and get to know the people that actually live there. The native people have a lot of the answers to the questions that anyone may have about a region and they could be answered by what they say, the expressions they give off, and by all the things that they don’t say, which is the hardest to figure out, but could be the most important.
When I was in Chajul, I saw and heard a lot of things. I felt I went there not expecting anything, but when I started to try and talk to some of the people, I quickly noticed that I also did not have the right questions lined up to get the right answers. I was thinking to objectively and trying to attack the problems head on. I also noticed that I did this in the conversations that I was trying to have with some of the people too. I needed more time with some of the families around town to just talk about how and why they did a lot of the things they did and more variety with the geographical locations of the people we were talking to in the city.
I feel there is something that is hard to address and on top of that, hard to fix it. I have heard of stories of other groups that try to help an underdeveloped region, but when they leave, the natives go back to the old ways that they were doing before the group came along. In Chajul, I would sit outside and just think why. The people know that they are malnourished; they know there is more of a variety of foods they could eat and grow, yet they continued to follow the same routines. No matter what anyone can tell someone about what they are doing wrong or how to better themselves, they will psychologically never change because they may feel there is not an immediate need to fix the problems at hand or not understand the other motives. A person would more successfully change if they were to buy-in to the cause and be motivated to want to improve themselves and through the changes they would be making, feel empowered by their hard work to motivate them to continue working hard.
In the end, the trip went well and it was a great first experience of being out of the country. I learned a lot about other perspectives of life and how to handle certain situations when talking to people and dealing with the language and cultural barriers.
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