Just to go ahead and answer everyone’s questions, yes I did get my nails done for this trip! Shocking I know but having perfectly white fingernails somehow makes me feel so much better. With that being said I also found it to be a unique way to connect with some of the scholarship students that we worked with in Chajul. How do incredibly expensive manicures and a very poor community connect? It’s actually a lot simpler than one might think; every girl loves to feel pretty.
A quick glance around the streets of Chajul and you will see a beautiful red skirt worn by practically every female as well as intricately woven “huipile” for their tops. Each one is individually handmade to stand out from the rest, from the color of the fabric itself down to the animals and color of thread used to make them. Just like in America the women also enjoy creating extravagant earrings, necklaces, and many hair accessories.
While this all may seem a bit irrelevant considering that it is such a broad way to link to very opposite worlds together; I soon realized that the connection ran much deeper. Not only did the women wear beautiful clothing but they also did hard labor in them without getting dirty or ruining their outfits! It is a running joke in our group that I have been known as a “doll” who refused to get my clothes dirty OR mess up my nails throughout this whole trip, but I still participated in all of the hands on activities. I found it quite funny to look around and see that even though the girls looked as though they were going out in their nice outfits they were standing right along beside me doing manual work to construct a composting bin for their school. Isn’t it amazing to think that women can do just as much as men and still looking amazingly beautiful at the same time? While many of my classmates (mainly my teacher) had preconceptions about the amount of participation I was going to be accountable for; they soon realized that the old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is way more than accurate!
More importantly isn’t that what all humans want? To be given the opportunity to show how great we can be at something? I believe this experience has given me more of an insight into a completely opposite culture, but also showed me that in the end we are all have some sort of common ground on which we can build a relationship and understanding of each other, even if we come from totally different backgrounds.