Now what?

You already know that I came to South America to study the revolutions that have happened in these countries. I wanted to know why times of unrest and revolution seem to create such awesome writing. I was expecting to come here and interview people who lived through the dictatorship and wrote about it. I have done that, and I have some great stories and some fantastic unpublished writing to share with you.

However, to my surprise, the most powerful moments of my time here have not been learning about the past. Don’t misunderstand. I have been nearly moved to tears visiting detention centers and reaching out and touching items that were used as instruments of torture. Of course I will never forget visiting those places and hearing the stories of the victims and survivors. I feel privileged to be able to carry some of their story back to you. It is a responsibility that I do not take lightly, and I promise that I will share the stories with integrity. 

Here is what has surprise me almost beyond words: in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, revolutions are not a thing of the past. The revolutionary spirit is alive and restless in these places and in these people. I felt it when I marched with the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. I felt it when I looked up at the humble office building of the president of Uruguay and learned that he was democratically elected and also played an active and visible role in the resistance during the dictatorship in his country. I felt it when I breathed in the tear gas and heard the cries of the students in Chile. Revolution and repression is the legacy of the people in these places, and they are carrying that legacy into the present. 

Until the madres de plaza de mayo have answers, people will march for truth and justice in Argentina. Do you want to know what makes me so sure? The moment the madres finished marching they were mobbed like they were holy or like they were rock stars – and not by adults, either, by young people about your age. They lived the revolution, and they are passing it on. It is working. I desperately hope that the youth of Argentina have inherited this capacity for asking tough questions of the people in power.

 As long as quality education is not accessible to all the people of Chile, there will be caused for tear gas and tanks with water cannons in the streets of that country. It is the young people who have inherited the legacy of activism and who are speaking loudly and boldly and with once voice about the future that they want for themselves and their country. I can’t allow myself to think about a world in which the demands of those brave, bold students are not held up as ideals for every country, everywhere. They are not showing any signs of stopping or even slowing down. There is great struggle there. There is great hope there. 

So where does that leave us? You are a group of young people who will come together to study English and Literature with me this year. You will bring who you are, and the communities to which you belong, to your study of the stories of others. You will find places to connect with the madres and the students and the democratically elected presidents. If you are brave and have trust, you will find a part of yourself in their stories. You will find that you can write and read with enthusiasm and passion, and you will find that you have your own stories to tell about your own revolutions. Not better or worse than the ones I have taught you about here, just different. And all your own.

I am getting ready to leave South American and come and meet you in our classroom in just a few days. I can’t wait to see you and start our work together! 

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Now what?

  1. Joanna Hernandez

    I am every impressed with that you have found while traveling those place and also enjoyed reading them. I am so excited to learn more about this and thank you for taking your time to tell us about those places and their interesting people and histories .

    • Lhia Hernandez

      I agree with Joanna. I have enjoyed reading and responding to your posts and everyone’s opinion on your journeys and questions. Like Joanna said, I also appreciate that you took your time to tell us about your amazing experience and making us part of the revolutions in South America. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for this school year and I know it will be as interesting or even more than this wonderful journey you have shared with us.
      Thanks again,
      Lhia Hernandez

  2. jayson014

    The whole journey sounds really interesting because the way how all these three countries still have the spirit inside them the dictatorship didn’t kill the spirit. The way how you interviewed the people who survive the dictatorship and how actually you went to three countries were they are kind of together because it sounds like if they want the same dream so their voices be herd and if they all stand up they could probably acomplish want they want and they will be role models for the future problems.

  3. Edelin Contreras

    As I have read all you’re post about all the cool and amazing places and people you have met and visited I am astonished that my next year English teacher has visited South America and has experienced major impacts that we will be learning more about. Your journey sounds beyond interesting! And you’re post have made me start thinking about these things more outside the box. I have analyze you’re post and thought about things that are both positive and even negative, and is amazing how every post you have posted makes me feel a different way. Over all, I am excited to learn furthermore about all of this.

  4. Bethany Vasquez

    I appreciate the fact that you took the time to go to those three coutries and tell us about all the things that where happening. I was very interested in reading each post and learn a little about it.

  5. Rachelle

    I, myself am excited to learn about your trip, and to learn something new to teach us something new. I have enjoyed reading all of your posts of your trip and enjoying myself commenting and reading everyone else’s agreements or disagreements. It has helped me to know what my peers think towards what has happened so far in the countries that you have visited. So I thank you Ms. Batke

  6. Anthony Vargas

    It was a pleasure reading about your journey in South America. Thank you for taking time out of your journey to write to us and let us know what has been going on in South America. It seems like this school year is going to be an exciting and interesting year, I can’t wait!
    – Anthony Vargas

  7. Gabriela J. Jimenez

    I really enjoyed reading all of your experiences and learning about events that had previously occurred in your life. I can’t wait to see where all of this leads to! I really want to get into a project having to do with all of these posts and make something bigger. Thank you for taking time of your vacation to express with us what cool things you go to see with your own eyes. I think it was hard for you to adapt to where you went because you don’t speak Spanish entire well BUT, I think it was all worth it because it shows you had fun. I can speak for everyone and say that we really appreciate all you have done.

    • Reyna Moreno

      I agree with Gabriela, I am excited to see where this leads to. It was very interesting to see how brave you were, which leads me to trust in you. Even just being able to read your experiences made me inspired I can only imagine the impact if had on you and the impact it will make on our lives this year while being able to study the movements and the strength these people had. Their motivation, motivates me to want to better understand what they are fighting for and to share the same desire for change.

  8. Ariel Ng

    Its great to see you had fun during your trip learning about the history and whats happening now with the education system. I can’t wait to learn what you experienced. Hope you have a safe trip back.

  9. Stephanie Lozano

    Learning and sharing all these moments you experienced were fun even though we weren’t physically there. I had a chance to get to know you a little and know what you experienced as well. I am glad you had fun and enjoyed your trip. At least now well have something to talk about in class or in the future. Hopefully this trip leads to a great topic in class.

  10. Channel Santiago

    I think that learning what has happened to others make others look at who they are . Going to different countries makes you look at what you have and what you can do better. I think that this experince for you Ms.Batke is really good because you are able to see what life is really about in South America.
    -Channel Santiago

  11. Reading these post inspired me to travel the world and learn about the revolutions that accrued in different countries.

  12. Dhilexa Martinez

    I feel like reading poetry and learning about the struggles these people faced, with protesting and dictatorship is so inspiring, and interesting. Reading these post were a delight and I cant wait to ask questions and learn more about these topics in school!

  13. Brian Concepcion

    Well I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to Argentina. I’m more or less ready to start school this year and I hope to achieve a good grade in your class

  14. Diana Pujols

    I’m glad you enjoyed your trip. I can’t wait to get to class and learn more of you discover in Argentina. I am looking forward to meeting some of the people you met on this yearning you took.

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