In spring 2009, CSB and SJU students studied abroad in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Students had intensive Spanish language instruction as well as courses about the indigenous community, history, politics and culture of Guatemala. To further their cultural experience, the students lived with home stay families.
While studying in Guatemala, students' read Rigoberta Menchú's book, Me Llamo Rigoberta Menchú, as way of understanding an indigenous perspective of Guatemala's civil war in their Senior Seminar class. Rigoberta Menchú is a Guatemalan indigenous rights activist, known for her documentation of Guatemala's 36 year-long civil war. In 1992, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. Since then, she has organized an indigenous political party in Guatemala, and ran in the nation's 2007 Presidential election.
During their four month stay in Guatemala, students heard that Menchú was speaking at a nearby village. They decided to take advantage of their proximity and hopped on a bus to see a globally recognized figure.
"The gathering was located in a very small town. The sudden appearance of 15 Americans definitely took the rural Guatemalan village by surprise!" CSB senior Stephanie Wegmann said.
Through this event, students were able to experience history and culture first hand. They were able to see life through the perspective of the Guatemalan people.
"To be able to meet Rigoberta Menchú in her home country, at a rural indigenous political gathering, and listen to her relay her message in Spanish, rather than English, was the most genuine experience we could have possibly asked for," Wegmann said.
Back row (left to right): Alex Ludescher, Chris Morgan, Mike Lenczewski, Doug Trumm, Becky Suhr, Sarah Wildenborg, Kate Westlund. Front Row (left to right): Jordan Differding, Stephanie Wegmann, Laura Wildenborg, Maria Gau, Rigoberta Menchú, Markie Crosby, Ellery Eggermont, Shannon Conk, Megan Woodruff