Along this journey, I have encountered many people. All of whom, who have different stories and have faced different hardships throughout their lives. This is what contributes to the difficulty of choosing just one person to write about this week, because I want to share their stories with the world. I have been here for three weeks now and everyone I have met has impacted me in some way or another. However, with that being said, if I had to choose one person to write about up to this point; it would be Damien.
I did not choose Damien because his story was the most heart breaking or the one I empathized with the most. I chose him because he is the most understanding and is striving to make a change on his own. He gets what Human Connections is trying to do in Mexico and has taken that mission to heart years before any of us encountered him.
Damien is the son of the Huichol family that my fellow colleagues and I met last week on our venture to Tepic. He is 25 years old and is married to a Cora woman he met in college. He graduated college with a Bachelor’s Degree in tourism because he sees the benefits of it and how it can help his people. This is where Damien’s mission differs from our own. At Human Connections, our goal as interns is to help educate tourist on how to be more responsible to purchase goods from local entrepreneurs which stimulates growth. On the other hand, Damien has this same task but is also faced with the challenge of getting his people to understand the benefits of tourism and be open to the idea. When they have every reason not to.
The Huichol people are one of the five indigenous cultures of Nayarit that I mentioned last week in my post. They have faced animosity, neglect, and even violence for much of their existence. All of which is a direct result of foreign influence. So, it is easy to understand why his people would be hesitant to allow foreigners into their homeland and be open to teaching them about their culture. I think that is really the reason Damien’s story resonates with me the most. There is an underlying message to keep your heart and mind open to create beneficial change.
This is important to understand when our world is filled with mass amounts of negativity, animosity, and hate. A world that seems to be going nowhere but downward. As humans, we all have inalienable rights that should never be denied to us in our existence, yet it happens every day all over the planet. If the world would come together and realize that if people approach situations with an open mind and heart, we wouldn’t have these issues. We wouldn’t have people starving. We wouldn’t have people dying of curable diseases. We wouldn’t have people struggling to survive. We wouldn’t have racism because people would learn to empathize instead of judge. We wouldn’t have any of these issues. People underestimate just how powerful they can be. When we all come together and are willing to learn and understand there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that we cannot solve. My only hope is that people like Damien and myself can spread this message before it is too late…