The following is a response to studying the history of Guatemala and Central America, particularly regarding Spain and the Catholic Church’s efforts to convert and assimilate the natives to Spanish culture. Through studying the history of Guatemala we are working toward a deeper understanding of the Guatemala of today and how it came to be.
January 10, 2012
“Exploring the shift from spiritual colonialism to solidarity and servanthood”. To my understanding, when first seeking to convert other peoples to the Christian faith, [historically] the culture of those to be converted was somewhat overwritten. True, the other culture remained, but it was usually changed, similar to colonialism. Countries would start colonies in other areas and also in the process press their own culture on the natives. Solidarity, on the other hand, brings to mind standing together and finding common ground in an area or issue. Rather than focusing on what one can give to the other, in this case the message of the Bible, the focus is instead on working together and finding mutual ground in serving others and God as well as seeing what one can learn from those around them.
I am amazed at the level that I am fitting in with my family. It seems as though CASAS was able to figure out exactly what I desired in a host family because I cannot imagine a better one. The first night, my family went to Pizza Hut, and at night my brother and I played video games.
Today, while reading Christianity in Latin America, I had a long talk with my mom and dad about the significance of Mayan, Aztec, and Inca culture in Guatemalan history. Afterwards, my mom and I talked for a long time about language, the fears of a new language, my family and plenty of other things. I have definitely learned that this is what I need. To experience, Guatemala, this family is perfect. I learn best through experience, through impulsive and floundering conversations and especially through error. Already in these two days, I know that my family will teach me more than a classroom can.
In Guatemala, I have seen evidence of many polarities. I saw impressive displays of wealth, such as the National Palace, and just a block away, penniless beggars. I saw a complete neglect of infrastructure and no evidence of traffic safety laws. I meet the warmest, friendliest people. I became an instant best friend and English dictionary to a bunch of little children who have no fear of strangers, but the bank nearby needs to be guarded by armed men. It will be a long time before I can adjust to these polarities. Maybe no one understands them, but just learns to accept them.