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Spanish Course, Guatemala 🇬🇹👩

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Feb. 2023 San Pedro, Guatemala

Vilma es mi maestra de español. Hago un curso de español por dos semanas en San Pedro, Lago di Atitlan en la escuela Corazon Maya. En esas dos semanas hablo con Vilma tres horas por dia. Ella es una mujer de San Pedro. Ella tiene 40 años, vives con ella padre/madre hermanas y el niño.

"We need to rethink our story, I don't want to reproduce the same thing over and over again"

In the spanish lessons I am not only learning spanish, I'm also having the chance to ask a guatemalan woman everything I want to know.

Which is amazing for me!

Once she asks me: "Miriam, quantos años tienes"

"27, I responded, "y tu?" and you, I'm asking her

"Que crees?" What do you think? She asks me. Hmmhm, well hard to say. She told me before she has one small child at the age of four years. Probably she is in her thirties. Woman mostly have children at a young age, and often they have more than one child.

"32?" I responded.

"Tengo 40 años" she responds. "Well, for a long time I did not know if I want children or not"

"Why?" I'm interested to understand more about her past. Vilma is different than many women I can see daily on the street.

"I grow up with three hermanas (..) My father worked in agriculture and my mother did not go to school at all"

"For breakfast, you know we eat Tortillas a lot. But the truth is that my parents could not afford to give us more than 1 Tortilla and 1 egg per person.

"They never bought for example yogurt as yogurt is much more expensive than Tortilla"

"I often did not have energy"

"If it comes to clothes, I only received the clothes of my older girls"

"(..) also if it comes to doctors, as I was sick. My mother went with me to the pharmacy. I was given some pills, but there was no real diagnosis often"

"I went to public school, and after public school, I studied to become a teacher - I always wanted to become a teacher" she tells me.

"My father needed to work a lot for me, and my sisters. It was expensive for him to let me go to the school so that I can become a teacher"

"Now my father is sick and he needs a lot of medicine. It's expensive and I need to help him now. That's why I live together with my family still. I need to work so to pay for his medicine" she tells me. In Guatemala, there is no social help.

"My husband lives in a different city and works there, we see each other every couple of weeks"

"If I now look around, I still see a lot of women. They are just getting babies without thinking about their futures. They just get three babies, because that's what their parents, and grandparents did. They are not asking themselves "Is this the right way? Can I afford to have babies?" They are just reproducing the same story again and again"

"I don't want to make the same mistake. Therefore I had a huge struggle before getting a baby. I know that It's hard to grow up children here, so that's why I was thinking about it for one year" she is laughing.

"Now I am happy, my son is four years old. I care for his future. I buy him yogurt- because I know it's healthy and nutritious.

While I am listening to Vilma's story, I see often the pain in her eyes. It's not easy. I guess it's not always easy to have students from other parts of the world, sees they are having so many opportunities and then the situation in which she needs to take care of her family.

I truly agree with her what she says. I think the country needs more women like Vilma. Woman, who question traditions and habits? We are living in 2023 and yeah some traditions are part of the culture, but sometimes we need to question our lifestyle.

If more families in Guatemala would get fewer children but therefore give more attention and more money to those children, those children would have better opportunities to find work, later on. Better work placements where they would earn more and support their families. Moreover, modern ideas would help move the country forward.

This can be transferred to every country we are living in. We are mostly surrounded by a social group. People with similar mindsets, so we are doing things because we are used to doing it that way. But is it always the right way?


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