Starting in 1968 Cornell University Department of International Programs of the College of Agriculture along with the Latin American Program, has offered students courses with the opportunity of a field study trip to tropical countries like Puerto Rico, República Dominicana, Honduras, India, Ecuador, and since 2006, México, to the State of Chiapas, where institutions like ECOSUR, CIESAS, INIFAP, and UNACH, among others, have opened their doors to welcome students from Cornell and shared their research and work on rural development.
This year, I was asked to organize and coordinate the 17 day trip that would take 13 students, two faculty members, and myself to a journey through the State of Chiapas, from North to South and from the highlands to the beach, touring cities and indigenous communities and learning from local University professors and scholars as well as from maize farmers, dairy farmers, and artisans. It turned out to be a wonderful experience and there’s so much to say that it’s not easy to find where to begin. The most extraordinary experience was to participate in the joy the meetings brought not only to our group, but to the people that welcomed us with their very special Latin hospitality. Through the whole trip, the unselfish hospitality eagerly offered by teachers, professors, students, members of the indigenous communities and even by the children, was mind-blowing.
The journey was so wonderful that we repeatedly heard the words “a dream come true”. The many lessons I found in only two weeks proved to be important enough to modify the perception I had for the future of my country because I was amazed by the people of Chiapas doing so much with so very little and realized that there’s still hope for México. I thought it would be nice to try to describe this experience in Chiapas and I recognized that my perspective wouldn’t be enough so I decided to ask two of the students from the trip, Erika Hooker who came back after the field course, and Henry Wells who decided to take the opportunity to stay 8 more weeks in Chiapas for an internship, to write about their trip to share it with the CNY LATINO readers. I hope these stories become a grain of sand which, together with the many grains of sand the people of Chiapas are contributing, will become a tall mountain the whole World will be able to see; a mountain showing the realities and the facts shaping the future of my country today.
The CNY Latino have dedicated pages with Erika’s and Henry’s reflections and pictures of this amazing trip to Chiapas in the November 2012 edition. You can also read their account in this online venue…