Pedro Franco Argumedo
PEDRO ARGUMEDO IN GUATEMALA
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The Journey of Pedro Argumedo and my chance to interview him
Luis: How would you say this trip to Guatemala has impacted you since you came back?
Pedro: When I am here I realize people focus on titles, the things they have, more materialistic. They forget about the human part, the feelings, a simple conversation, how is your day going…you know something simple like that. It has made me seen that the States has lost these kind of small things that make you sociable and human beings. For example, titles such masters, doctorate degrees… these things are good to have and are positive, but it does not define who you are. It doesn’t define who I am. Many people here worry about those things that are just temporary…when someone is in bed when they are 70 or 80 years old ready to die, those are not the things you take with you. It’s the experiences you have had with other people what you take with you. This was what stayed with me after this trip
Luis: This is impressing. I also believe at the end of life what’s left on us is human experiences. I mean it is really good to achieve titles. They require time and sacrifice but at the end what you take with you is human relationships.
Luis: How would you say this trip is going to change your future?
Pedro: I would like to get more people and keep developing this. Fortunately and unfortunately that requires more funds which requires more work. I would like to do it in the same place in Guatemala but a bigger community. Bringing toys, socks, and other things…this is good. However these do not last forever. They end after a period of time and I am working on something I will do in December 2015. We are wanting to bring latrines, stoves, dish washer, those are things that can last for 5 years. Have sustainability. I want to focus more on that. Instead of being like look at this gift, I want to give them something that is going to last you for X amount of time. If you can make this last it will hold for a long time.
“I do not want just to give people, I want to educate them” Pedro Argumedo
Luis: In a general level, what changes have you gone through, positives or negatives?
Pedro: Physically. I am not 20 years old anymore. I had to change my diet. I had to take care of my body. Exercise. The place is at 10000 feet over the sea. Someone at my age (37) you start to feel more these things. Long walks, biking, the places we go to are really far away. Sometimes we have to carry material to these places and it is very tiring. That is in the physical aspect. Psychologically, I have realized that I came to the US and I do not take things for granted I used to. For example, my bed or the mattress. Something as simple as that. In Guatemala sometimes I sleep on the floor or sometimes I sleep on a thin mattress or wooden place without mattress. The food is a diet so different. When I come back I feel more appreciative of the things I have but after 4-5 months I forget. This is when it’s important for me to keep traveling.
Luis: Would you have liked to know more things before you went there?
Pedro: I had to opportunity to read about Guatemala and the genocide. Also about the suffering of the indigenous people. Personally I would have liked to know more about the Mayans, the story, the different 5 types of Mayas. For example suchil? like the red color but I don’t know about the other 4. Those are things that I would have liked to know more about it.
Luis: Would you have liked to experienced more things there in addition to what you experienced there?
Pedro: I would have liked to go to Tikal. This December I am going to Guatemala so I can visit it then. I would like to enrich my life not just with present Guatemala but with past Guatemala. Then I can compare it the differences between the past and the present Guatemala.
Luis: so imagine I am going to another country for studying abroad, internships, or working. What would be your advice for me going there for the first time?
Pedro: I would tell you to have an open mind. With an open mind, one can think outside of the box that one has grown up with. To not be afraid to meet other people or different cultures, religions, or beliefs to mine. You can only accomplish that if you have an open minded. With an open mind, any country you go to you can be welcomed well. However, if you go with your ideas and try to impose your cultures and beliefs you will have conflict and you won’t learn anything. People won’t want you.
“Number one rule is the concept and have an open mind” Pedro Argumedo
Luis: Do you have any recommendations for our center that we could improve?
Pedro: When I am traveling and it is through the institution, for example Avila. I like things to be concrete. One case I had here at Avila. I was going to Bolivia and the communications from the Sisters there and global studies center was bad. Therefore, I would like Avila to have a more concrete relationship with the other catholic sisters and brothers in Bolivia or Argentina, where they have a curriculum established for the students. Not something where the students do not where they are going to stay or what they are going to eat...I felt like I was flying in the air. If I am paying I want communication between the center and the country I am going. More accountability for the student. The student needs to have a supervisor or maestro that supervises and monitors things.
Luis: Do you want to share anything from your trip?
Pedro: I personally do not like kids. Especially when they are 7, 8, or 9. They make a lot of noise and I am not comfortable with that. I am not around kids and when we went there (Guatemala), Dr. Parsons and I were walking to a village. I was carrying two backpacks, one in the back and one upfront and they were heavy. It was night time, we were tired and hungry and it was very dark. The path was pure dirt with rocks. I heard steps but I could not see because of the backpack. A little girl asked me if she could carry one of my backpacks. I said to her do not worry it is fine and I kept walking but the backpacks were so heavy I did not have energy anymore. She grabbed my hand and I felt like electricity, like energy that reached my heart and I felt a strong emotion. A little girl came up to a stranger and grabbed my hand and didn’t let it go until we got to the house in the village. It was a moment that I felt healthy emotionally. She healed me emotionally. It was one of the most impressive stories because of my military past, I do not like kids that much. That experienced healed me because I thought if this little girl touches my hand or any kid touches it, they will know the bad things I have done, the sins I have committed. However this girl did not feel any of that. She felt the little love and cuddliness I have. She did not let my hand go. She and her little brothers were sitting on my lap and they were hugging me. They need a father figure, a true friend. Maybe the way I see myself, it is not the way other people see me. That made me feel well. “We are own harsher critics”
Luis: Thank you so much for your time Franco.