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Entry by Vivian Chavez 

The Changemakers community arrived late this afternoon, exhausted from travel and enthusiastic about the journey ahead. We were welcomed with a tasty dinner and a mystery drink “Incaparina.” Our orientation to the Immersion was led by facilitators from the organization “Sister Parish” who covered a range of topics from suggestions for personal safety to body language and the fact that pedestrians do not have the right of way in Guatemala. So when we see a car, we should get out of the way and be alert, mindful of traffic.

Touch, hand and facial expressions are key to communication in Guatemala. GuatemalIMG_4046ans greet one another with a kiss on the cheek or subtle touch, saying “Mucho Gusto.” In our communal learning space we learned that this is a culture where it is very, very important to be polite & thankful. Key words: “Muchas Gracias.”  The AGENDA for the program begins tomorrow en route to Iximche Mayan ruins and meeting Guatemalan community members who will travel with us.

My journey to Guatemala is a tapestry. I did not come on this trip with my fellow Changemakers. I came a few weeks earlier to visit my own roots, my beloved familia Guatemalteca.  You see, I am from Guatemala and the journey to study the “roots of migration” is very personal. Though born in the U.S., I share the story of reverse-migration that so many immigrants carry within. Going back to Guatemala I come to rebuild identity in pursuit of the evasive Guatemalan dream. This is not the first time I’ve come back to the sound of marimbas, views of volcanos, touch of loving people, smells of incense and the delightful taste of chile chiltepe.  I’ve made this journey numerous times. Traveling back and forth through space and time to connect with who I am and where I come from. I am from a place and a people of hybrid ethnicity, complex history, earthquakes, creativity and surprise.  So excited for this journey! Buenas Noches.