Our keynote speaker will present the theme:
EL BUEN VIVIR—Fullness of Life.
Laura Hurtado Paz y Paz – Guatemalan Sociologist
I am a former student of Colegio Monte María, Guatemala City, and the daughter of a doctor and an artist, both humanists. Living and doing literacy work for three months in a village in Huehuetenango and when I visited San Juan Acul in El Petén, set the direction for my life. Over the years I have come to know, investigate, accompany and support indigenous communities in their search for recognition and respect for their rights.
After the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, I was an advisor to the population uprooted by the internal armed conflict; I sought and negotiated for land for resettlement under stipulated conditions of dignity.
Now the director of an NGO that promotes the enforcement and realization of human rights in peasant and indigenous communities, my interest in social research has deepened my understanding of the problems associated with the processes of capitalist modernization in agriculture: land seizure by a few farmers and entrepreneurs and the dispossession of entire communities. I have learned about the value and beauty of land from a cosmic worldview; about culture and the legitimacy of indigenous peoples’ claim to full recognition as people; their right to organize their collective life according to their ancestral norms; and their aspiration to “Live Well”, opting for a life in harmony and balance with nature.
PANEL: The Encounter of Two World Views
History and the Maryknoll Experience in Guatemala (1943 – 2016)
Sister Jane Buellesbach, MM – Catarina Mission, San Marcos, Guatemala
After more than 50 years of mission in Guatemala, I have lived many experiences, but I’ll share a recent one.
Manuel, a young father of two children, works on a rubber estate. For several years, he saw his uncle work as a volunteer Health Promoter in our program, which has been going on for more than thirty years. So when Manuel made the decision to be a Promoter, his uncle introduced him to this program as a worthwhile opportunity. The two currently work three days a week at the farm and with other communities addressing common diseases and insisting on the importance of preventing disease rather than curing it.
The school children recognize Manuel for his talks about the causes and prevention of diseases they commonly suffer. He recently promoted the sale of water filters, and although the farm salaries are miserable, after he stressed their value, several families acquired them.
Manuel inspires me to go on. Even with his backwards baseball cap and his Apache haircut, he values health, his health and that of his family and the community.
Father Bill Mullan, MM
Ordained at Maryknoll in 1962 and assigned to Guatemala, I studied linguistics one summer at University of Oklahoma in preparation for serving the Mayan Indians.
In Huehuetenango, Maryknoll sisters and the Maryknoll Society, with the volunteer service of the Jacalteco people, built a 50-bed hospital. The sisters staffed the hospital and also a grammar school. After three years I was named pastor and served there until l974. By then, I was able to do most of the liturgies and meetings with the Jacaltecos in the Popti (jacalteco) language.
In l974, as pastor of two parishes, Barillas and San Mateo, I learned some Qanjobal language of Barillas but spent most of my seven years in San Mateo learning the culture and language of the Chuj-speaking people.
In l980, I served as the Society’s regional superior in Central America, covering Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica. I worked in New York from 1986-96, returning to Guatemala in 1996. I am still assigned to the Central America region; however, I am limited because of health issues and age.
A PANEL and A DYNAMIC:
Graduates of the Maryknoll School in Guatemala City—Committed To Love, Justice, and Peace
Helen Beatriz Mack Chang – Program Administrator
On September 11, 1990, my life did a 180-degree turn-around. My sister Myrna’s violent death obliged me to look for justice regarding Myrna’s assassination. Full of pain, anxiety, and uncertainty, I couldn’t remain calm and positive in the face of this atrocious situation. Searching for justice, I encountered many people who had also lost their loved ones in acts of institutional violence and were forced to live with this reality during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala.
What began for me as a personal and familial cause soon became a common cause, and we began to receive and give mutual support and help. In memory of Myrna, we established a foundation in her name, and I remain as a founding member to this day. For more than 25 years, my work has centered on justice, security, peace building, and human rights work.
Claudia Virgina Samayoa Pineda – Teacher, Philosopher, and Human Rights Defender
Human rights have always been part of my being. As a Catholic woman, even as a child, I had difficulty with the assumed Church dogma that only Christians would be saved. If God created us all equal with dignity, we should be recognized as equals and be respected.
In 1995, I began my work on human rights within civil society as part of the initiative for change in the construction of the peace process. I was moved by the injustices around me: racism, sexism, homophobia, egocentrism, mining company transgressions, and stripping of resources, etc.
Ana Lucía Ramazzini –Teacher and Sociologist
Perhaps symbolic of the roots in my heart, I was born between Lake Amatitlan and the Pacaya Volcano, around the time the 1976 earthquake shook us. In the late 70s, profound political repression was a prelude to genocide.
The cross-culturation of education, sociology, investigation, and feminism marks my story. My investigations on sexism, anthropocentric thinking, the patriarchal capitalistic neoliberalism models, and racism have supported the transformation. I have researched forced pregnancies in adolescents and sexuality and violence against children and women. Politically speaking, I define myself as a feminist.
Recently, I have worked in radio and art. I believe profoundly in the right to an education and the necessity to unlearn that which oppresses. My daily sharing with valiant women helps me to believe that a different world is possible.
Ana Cecilia Garcés De Marcilla Del Valle – Anthropologist
I am a Guatemalan woman, mother of two lively children and the partner of a human rights defender. My biggest passions are education and working with children and youth, especially with girls and adolescent women in their formation as community leaders.
My formation in Monte María College made me a disciplined and intentionally committed teacher. I owe my interest in social research and intercultural living to my anthropological studies at the University of San Carlos. I share the rich and diverse nature of Guatemala with young people during educational projects and research processes. I learn from my colleagues, activists, and researchers who work in education, women’s rights, and intercultural sharing.
Currently I am president and co-founder of EducaGuatemala, a civil association, and a specialist curriculum advisor with the Populations Council.