"A Learning Community" - by Maria Nachbor (Pachaysana Intern, spring and summer 2014)
It all began on the 18th of June 2014. Osha and I showed up to Tzawata. As my first two weeks would often begin, I interrupted something. This first interruption was of a meeting with the whole community. Then, two weeks of interviews and the subsequent preparation of documents, video, and presentations would involve numerous interruptions by Osha, Renae, and me. My specific task, within the bundle of collaborative efforts, was to assist in telling the human side of the story of Tzawata, meaning the part of their struggle to regain ancestral lands that goes beyond the dates, names and facts. This required the never-ending patience of the community to usher the other interns and I through their story, again and again. It required their insightful assistance and feedback when we shared, from our “outsider” perspectives and understanding, their story back to them. The community accepted us without knowing us, a difficult task in any situation, made even more difficult through the sensitive information they were sharing.
I saw a change in the little less than 2 months of my work with Pachaysana. This change was from a system of me interrupting the community members' lives to all of us interrupting each others lives. We all became agents of change and educators within our seemingly different worlds by understanding how we are inter-connected, and then using our diverse knowledge for the task of joint teaching. For me we transitioned from the role of strangers to allies, who ate, bathed, learned and worked in harmony with the community, all within the common grounds of a desire to understand one another. I learned how to collaborate, and through my experiential learning became conscious of how seemingly individual work can be strengthened through communal and joint efforts.
Personally, I have grown through the involvement and hands-on efforts generously provided by the community of Tzawata, who created a learning community with us, the interns, by inviting us into their lives. The future holds bright opportunities, and I hope to apply what the community taught me in all areas I work in the future. ¡Pagarachu, Tzawata!