By Greg McClure.
During the Spring 2020 semester, before Covid-19 turned the world upside down, Dr. Greg McClure and Jeff Goodman from the Reich College of Education led a group of students on a delegation to the indigenous Maya community of Copal AA in Guatemala. The delegation was part of the Honors seminar Education as the Practice of Freedom that examined US imperialism and intervention in Guatemala, and indigenous solidarity movements after the Guatemalan Civil War and Genocide. Students met with community leaders, students, and teachers, and learned about the community’s efforts to create a vibrant and peaceful future for themselves and their neighbors. Click here for the full Appalachian State University/Copal AA Delegation Report 2020.
Clockwise from top left: students from Instituto Basico Nuevo Amanecer; Michael Weiss, Piper Strzelecki, Savannah Rivers; Caty Parham & Hawken Kirchener; Piper S.; Piper S.; Greg McClure; ASU delegation; Copal AA elders. Photos by Jeff Goodman
Copal AA was founded near the end of the Civil War in January of 1996, when 86 families from the first collective return of refugees split off to form their own community; the town has since grown to almost 700 people. Copal AA is multilingual and multiethnic, composed of indigenous Mam, Q’anjob’al, and Q’eqchi’ Maya. From the beginning, they established a progressive vision for their community, adopting by-laws that banned the use of slash and burn agriculture, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and the sale of junk food and alcohol. In their community schools, they teach the true history of the Guatemalan Genocide, and the continuing indigenous struggle for environmental, political, and economic justice. Members of Copal AA will be participating in international events during Climate Week, sponsored by Sustaining All Life. Contact Dr. Greg McClure, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.
Top photo: Piper Strzelecki, Michael Weiss, Lem McClure, Jeff Goodman, Caty Parham, and Elias Fox in Antigua, Guatemala. Photo submitted.