We've started planning our despedida, which will consist of skits, music, and dancing. I've been asked to emcee and I'm also performing a song with three other students. It’s called Carlos Fonseca.
I think all the students and families are emotional right now. This place has had an enormous impact on us and we know that we have our own revolution to create. We all want to take some of what we've learned here and share it with the people in the U.S. We want Americans to know what's happening here, not just because it would help Nicaragua fulfill the goals of the revolution but because it would help Americans. We are such a big and powerful country that sometimes we forget we could learn a lot from a tiny country like Nicaragua.
It's not just the literacy campaign that has created an impression on me. Although that is the reason I came here, I feel I've learned so much more. I know I'll be a better teacher because of this experience but I also think I'll be a better person. I wish I could help Gladys Baez do a speaking tour. My brief meeting with her has stayed with me. I grew up watching Mexican revolutionary movies that showed soldaderas and I wasn't ever really sure exactly what their roles were. Were they soldiers, or helpers, or what? Gladys is not only a combatiente, she's a commandante. She's calm, wise, articulate and very sure of herself.
|Comandante Gladys Baez|
I understand now what Francie meant when she said Gladys es muy fuerte; to be a revolutionary leader, it's not enough to be physically strong - you also need clarity and resolve. I discussed the idea of having Gladys do a speaking tour again with Francie and Mark and we were all concerned about her security. Maybe this is not the right time for her to be in the U.S. Reagan has a lot of support right now.
I learned so much from Francie, too. Raising six daughters on her own, she's undoubtedly the head of the household and has a huge influence over the girls but she exercises her power in a very subtle way that makes her daughters feel guided and secure enough to make their own decisions. I've seen her give instruction once or twice; often it's a simple reminder. She's an amazing mother, but she is not defined by motherhood. She is defined by her struggle for justice and equality, by her ability to give herself completely to her beliefs.
My real mother fed me when I was hungry, nursed me when I was sick and loved me unconditionally. She gave me life and I will always love her. My Nicaraguan mother feeds my mind and nurtures my soul, and loves humanity, especially those who are oppressed. She has shown me how to live.
I learned from all the girls. Even my little mouse, Adrianna, taught me the right way to tuck mosquito netting and the value of cow shit!
Francie just came by to give me a little going away gift she bought for me. It's a purse with "Nicaragua" stitched on it. She also sewed a rojo y negro scarf for me, the colors of the Sandinista flag. She tied it around my neck and called me "compa.” It means compañera: companion or partner. We both started crying.
I really don't want to leave. Sure, I miss my loved ones and my music but a part of me really wants to stay here forever. It just seems that people here in Nicaragua are much more aware of what's really important in life. They're more concerned with humanity than with accumulating things or living in comfort, they strive for growth rather than material gain. The social and economic structures support this system of beliefs. People speak respectfully of a worker's deeds, a revolutionary's bravery, or a poet’s ideas, not of the latest gadget someone purchased. Of course, there's not much to purchase. Instead of billboards inviting you to consume this or that new product there are billboards with revolutionary slogans, portraits of revolutionary heroes or a thought-provoking idea.
|Revolutionary billboard image via The Cahokian.|
The things I once thought essential, I now understand to be trivial. So what if there's no toilet paper, there's self-determination!
Upon reflection: I can see now that the process of Conscientization was already at work in me. I was becoming aware of a consciousness with the power to transform: transformative awareness.