By Yesenia Lazaro Roque
In my last five years working at the Yurac Yacu Community Center I’ve contributed to the NGO Andean Alliance as well as other community education projects. Initially, I approached the center in search of English classes. While that wasn’t possible at the time, Andean Alliance suggested I participate in some of their other various community projects. That’s how I got my start at Yurac Yacu.
The work I do during my fivedayaweek schedule includes:
- Teaching primary education classes in the community
- Supporting primary education at the school in Rivas, my hometown
- Leading weekly computer literacy classes for mothers in the community. These classes have been especially important and emotional; for many women, it’s their first time ever using the Internet.
- Helping young women access our library and computer resources
This year, I graduated from the Guias Locales training program for young guides, which is partially funded by Project Cordillera. I am now one of six youths who have completed the program.
Recently, I also had the chance to work with four students from the University of Cambridge, who were here researching usage, contamination and availability of water in the community. In the beginning, I was worried about the amount of responsibilities I had taken on. It was hard enough introducing myself to the villagers in the area, and facilitating the students’ interviews presented an even greater challenge. But to my surprise, everyone we spoke with greeted us with openness and enthusiasm. They were eager to speak with us and answer our questions, even the more personal ones. Some of the people we interviewed spoke only Quechua, and it was harder to understand them—but overall we received a lot of good feedback.
The question that surprised everyone was ‘What would you do if there was no water?’ Most people said that they hadn’t even considered the possibility, and they said they would think more about water management in the future. Personally, I learned a lot about how strongly people feel about water resources.
All in all, it was an extraordinary opportunity that taught me a lot. I know I’ll draw on these experiences as a guide, and I hope to educate visitors and future generations about our environment and rich cultural history.
I believe a person’s experiences are formed by both minor and major life events, and that our profoundest epiphanies come when we remove the blindfold of prejudice and open our minds. Instead of keeping things to ourselves, we need to sharing experiences and knowledge with one
another. I cherish opportunities to experience both the good and the bad, because in the end all experiences enrich one’s vision of the world.