Week 3 with MIA, Mujeres Iniciando en las Américas, David JW Inczauskis

Unfortunately, the first half of my stay here with MIA has come to a close. Fortunately, we have had an active and successful week in Guatemala City. Last Wednesday we began the courses in the political science and EFPEM departments of the University of San Carlos, and about 40 participants showed up between the two groups. On Thursday, the three courses in engineering, social work, and student health continued with the sharing of many personal stories and opinions concerning the way that we can break gender stereotyping in Guatemala and around the world. Some of the comments provoked interesting discussions that opened me up to different perspectives—perspectives that touched on the main reasons why violence continues to negatively affect the lives of men, women, and children in the capital.

On Friday morning I walked over to Congress to speak to Congresswoman Zury Ríos Montt, a legislator who often supports laws that work to level the playing field between men and women. Our goal was to present to her an effective law from my home state of Illinois that obliges teachers to include rape prevention education in the public and private school systems. Although the representative was not present, I was fortunate enough to run into her later that day at the event of an organization with which MIA closely works—Sobrevivientes. During the event, the congresswoman and I set up an appointment for next Tuesday so that we can sit down and chat about the steps we need to take to make turn this proposal into law.

On Sunday, I ran a 13.1 mile race in Antigua Guatemala, which has little to do with MIA but was a great opportunity to spend some time with a few of the friends that I have made.

Monday was a day jam-packed with meetings, travel, and workshops. I woke up at 6 and headed over to see the British Ambassador to Guatemala. She is an integral part of MIA and one of the reasons why MIA was able to sign a pact with the University of San Carlos to solidify our presence on campus. She and I spoke about her relationship with MIA and discussed possible future sources of funding for the organization. Later, Luis, Regina, and I took a bus to Pedro Pablo Valdez, an all-boys school in Zone 8. The workshop consisted of recognizing popular Guatemalan gender stereotypes. Despite the rambunctiousness of the young men, they were able to identify the stereotypes and the two main objectives of MIA by the end of the class periods.

On Tuesday I continued the workshop in Chiquimula. The four-hour long session produced much dialogue between the participants, and their dramatic renditions of aggressive, passive, and assertive communication skills were rather comical. I look forward to receiving their comments about Guatemala’s Law against feminicide and other forms of violence against women next week. My goal with the participants in Chiquimula is to work with them—considering their experience on the subject—in order to rewrite this law—a law that is not very applicable given its wording and simplicity.

Thanks much for reading, and I look forward to sharing my experiences again next week!

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