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Dear Dragons,

My name is Este and I am one of the three instructors for the Guatemala: Spanish Language Intensive – Group C summer course.  I was born to an amazing woman in Guatemala City who taught me many things about the world and the importance of living in a way that helps restore it and make it better.  I grew up along with my two sisters during the dark periods of the civil war in Guatemala, which eventually led to us fleeing our birthplace and relocating to Canada as political refugees.  It was at the age of 10 that I met the snow and uttered my first words in English.

My growing up in Canada exposed me to a whole other part of the world, one that often masked realities that I had become accustomed to in every day Guatemala.  Material scarcity was replaced by an abundance of materials and yet the root causes both of scarcity and abundance remained the same.  It is here that i became interested in understanding more about the world and why things happened the way they did.  I wondered why some people have so much and others so little, why some people sleep with bellies full and others empty, and why some folks are forced to leave their birthplaces while others are free to stay put.  I became interested in learning and unpacking world issues that I had experienced but lacked the ability to articulate or convey to others.  In my mid-teens I became very involved with the Canadian Red Cross working on global education and refugee issues, which eventually led to working on environmental justice issues.  I studied Anthropology and Political Science at the University of Toronto and Sciences Po in Paris, and went on to work in international cooperation for several years.   For nearly a decade now, I’ve moved throughout the Americas working on various solidarity and educational projects.  Working in small communities across Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as across Canada and the USA, I’ve learned that there is still much to learn in this world.  For this reason, I enjoy working with others because I believe that each one of our own journeys make us carriers of knowledge and wisdom.

Mesoamerica and Guatemala in particular is a place dear to my heart, and one that holds much knowledge and wisdom.  The best examples of determination, perseverance and resistance, I learned there.  Every time I visit, I continue to witness the best lessons of love and forgiveness despite the fractured wounds of war.

For this course, it is my goal to share what I know of this land, its history and peoples, and weave our own journeys into this magical space so that our presence there is joyful, meaningful, and positively impactful.  All you need to bring is an open mind, an open heart, and a thirst for learning.  The rest, the experience itself will provide for.

I can’t wait to meet you all and work with you on this course.

Hasta pronto,