Guatemala

Sharing my love

A little about me… a mother of four, psychologist, educator, woman of color, daughter, sister, spouse, avid reader of all things young adult, aspirational chef, new blogger, and much more. As I write today my identity as mom comes to the forefront and I am speaking to you today from this place.

Being a 1st generation Asian Indian, my love for other cultures and travel has been ingrained very early on. I have dreamed of being part of something (like ISP International) to integrate all parts of my identity. This love is something I have already started sharing with my four children. Our first international adventure to learn Spanish as a family was in San Marco, Guatemala in lago de Atitlán. Not only was it a place of beauty surrounded with volcanoes, the mezcla of mayan and guatemalan cultures was so rich.

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Our days were spent learning Spanish from our patient teachers, Maria and Gaspar. We traveled to local villages surrounding the lake each with its own dress and culture. This picture is of my daughter and son learning how to roast coffee beans from Gaspar over an open fire in the village of San Juan.

The open air food markets and bright colors of their dress drew me back to my early childhood in India. I felt connected to myself in a way that I had not in decades. The cool part was being able to share this with my children.  My hope and wish is with more exposure that my children will embrace my love of people from all over the world.

One of our shared memories was when we helped to build a small home (about as big as our coat closet) for an elderly woman (in her late 80’s) who was living under sticks sleeping on a bed that was rat infested. It was amazing to see the community and the youth join together to work on this home for their adopted “abuela.” When I initally met her she reminded me of my father and his smile. I was overwhlemed with grief from the loss of my father (my children’s “tha tha”) a few months prior. One month after our return from Guatemala, we heard that she had died…I was consoled in knowing she had a comfortable home her last month and knowing that in some way this home was a connection to my father.

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My then 2 1/2-year-old son helping to build a home for the “abuela” de Santa Cruz

As I reflect back on this experience, I have come to realize that we can cultivate the love for difference and that it starts with stepping out of our own world (literally or metaphorically). Much of my work as a therapist requires stepping out of myself to understand the world of my clients…to know that even though I have not experienced their pain, being able to recognize their pain. These and other experiences keep drawing me to this personal work in international psychology.

Return to our blog to hear about my experience of understanding parenting within a Mayan community of mostly women in San Juan and helping to present the idea of postive discipline within the context of their parenting practices.

~Uma

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5 thoughts on “Sharing my love

  1. Judy Greene says:

    Uma, what wonderful story of your experiences in Guatemala. I remember well you and your sisters at Clairemont. I hope to continue following you through Facebook or your blog.

  2. The ECO SPANISH SCHOOL SAN JUAN is grateful for every thing you did here, like to build the house for the elder, to visit some of the poorest families in San Juan La Laguna and share with them some vegetables, to visit our town and share our culture, see all the process of the textiles with natural dyes and teaching Spanish to you and your family, we really enjoy it.

    You are always welcome here.
    Saludos desde el Lago Atitlán!

    Maria Cholotío

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