Latin America
Teacher's Guide

February 17, 1999 Update

We explore some aspects of traditional Guatemalan culture - specifically the use of Maize and traditional medicine - and look at ways people are trying to reform Guatemala for a better future.

The team generated the following reports: Try the following activities:
Abeja - Men of Maize

Abeja describes corn's central role in Mayan life, as well as some of the process of preparing it. There is also a poem about the "People of Corn."

Food is one of the aspects of culture that most people most solidly cling to. Have students consider what foods are most important to them, as well as what foods are traditional in their culture. Would they be happy to find themselves living with the Maya nad eating their food all the time? Would a Maya be happy to be transported into your students' culture?
Abeja - Guatemala: Never Again

Abeja relates the tale of the murder of Monsenor Gerardi after heading a commission to document human rights abuses during the civil war.

This activity leads well into the Making a Difference activity (see next), OR, try having your students recount a major human rights issue in their own society. Once you open this box, it can go forever: what are the similarities between the abuses in their society and in Guatemala, why do the people in power act this way, why do so many people not get invovled if they know about these things, etc.
Making a Difference - Help the Witnesss and survivors of the Río Negro Massacre!

This page gives background info on the intimidation of witnesses and survivors of the Rio Negros massacre. It urges students to send e-mail or letters to people who can protect these witnesses.

Have your students read the information and and then write a letter to one of the figures listed (President of Guatemala, Governor of Baja Verapaz, and the Human Rights Procurator. NOTE, e-mails are provided in two cases, making it easy for students to do this quickly and cheaply.

Kavitha - Healing with Dreams and Herbs

Kavithah tells of her visits to a natural Mayan healer. This is good for helping demystify traditional medicine, and raise awareness of the deep knowledge of the Maya.

Students love to talk about mystrious things. Help them relate to this story by sharing strange things they have seen or that have happened to them where they can't explain it or it was a really weird conicidence, etc.
Jamila - Rainforest Treasures

Jamila speaks to the destruction of the rainforest and its biodiversity notes the medicinal value of diverse plants, and introduces the idea of sustainable development.

There is a wonderful activity in the Guatemala lessons on the destruction of the rainforest that ties in very well with this.
Abeja - A Day in Quiche

Abeja tells of her travels to the Quiche region of Guatemala to attend a meeting about the constitutional reforms with a group for widoes and youth. Provides a solid background into the history of the Quiche of the region, and some fun anectodes.

With a lot of info provided, this is good for using any Q$A format or having the students note what they think is the most important info.

Abeja - Making History

In this report Abeja gives some solid info on the constitutional reforms Guatemala is considering now and what they would mean for the indigenous people, as well as the problems with the current constitution.

This activity is really good to help students understand an argument and understand the main point. See if they can identify the major items being considered in the constitutional reforms and what the arguments are for and against.
Kavitha - Do You Know Where Your Broccoli Comes From?

Kavitha describes a slow process of destruction of the agricultural lands the people of Todos Santos depend on due primarily to the use of chemicals and a focus on cash crops for export.

This activity goes really well with the activity referred to for Jamila's article.


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