Well, we’re getting close to our departure date. Today was the last class before we leave, and we had the pleasure of meeting with BG Carlos Villagran of the InterAmerican Defense Board. He took us through his background (in English) and then continued the rest of his presentation in Spanish at Anita request. The PowerPoint presentation was in English, so I think it was a really good idea to have him speak in Spanish to get those of us who speak Spanish into listening mode. Mr. Villagran made a point of stating that we should view his presentation on a more informal basis and take his views and statements as his personal feelings. The talk was very interesting and it was great to open a dialogue with someone from Guatemala about the topics that we’ve studied thus far. One of the things I found most interesting was (as Evan pointed out) the fact that he did not mention the Peace accords throughout his entire presentation. He basically said that the Peace Accords were great in that they allowed Guatemala to close the chapter on an ugly period and attempt to move forward. After a follow up question about why many of the recommendation about the peace accord were not carried out, he spoke about how many of the proposals were certainly relevant but likened it to “a Christmas list that a child writes up for Santa Claus . Mr. Villagran was very gracious throughout his talk and was willing to answer all of our question with great detail.
On a personal level I’m really looking forward to the trip. I’ll be doing some blogging there and hopefully taking some photos. Michael Hildner and I both run track, so we’ll be running hopefully every day there. Ian Ramsey-North, one of our teammates spent a year in Guatemala near Lake Atitlan, so he’s been nice enough to give us some routes, one of which is a 25 minute run uphill where you can see both the Atlantic and the Pacific. I’m one of the more fluent speakers in the class, so I assume I’ll have the responsibility of doing a lot of speaking, translating, etc. During the speech, I translated a bit for Samme and I didn’t mess up much so that’s encouraging.