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Searching for Balance!  In this newsletter, we highlight our latest Rehearsing Change program.

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Pachaysana: Arts fos Social Change in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Aysana… Equilibrio… Balance

The guiding principle of our work

The name of our organization, Pachaysana, means Balance World. It serves as a constant reminder of our ongoing, yet elusive goal. Whether you read the earliest known mythology or the newest scientific scholarship, you cannot help but witness the human quest for a balanced relationship with our world. It is both our ethical foundation and our call to action. And we do not only speak of a responsible relationship with our planet, for a balanced world implies our relationship with each other.  

How do we create balanced relationships? In such a complex world, we believe the “how” must come through an educational dialogue in which participants from different cultures and nationalities feel safe to express their stories and dreams. As the dialogue evolves, we begin to see that our stories cross paths and our dreams are defined with similar images. 

During Holy Week (Ecuador’s Spring Break) 4 youth from rural Amazon communities joined 4 international students from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito to participate in one such dialogue. During 9 days they shared their stories while exploring the wonders and challenges of life in the Ecuadorian Amazon.  It culminated with a theatrical performance in our host community of Mariscal Sucre, and a repeat of the same performance at a small theatre in Quito.  We called our play, Searching for Balance: Multicultural Stories from the Amazon.
 

Our 9 day experience:





The Toxic Tour, visiting the most contaminated sites of the Amazon









Dialogues and workshops with indigenous communities affected by the oil and mining industries.









Interviews with city-dwellers, including the governor of Sucumbios province.








Connecting with the natural world through hikes, hanging out with monkeys and trekking through caves








Living with host families and participating in daily community activities.
 







Interacting with children in different communities







Continuous workshops to help us reflect, create and express.













Theatrical performances of our shared story.
 

What we learned – using the words of our participants

 

“Todo está conectado” – It is so important to realize how truly interconnected our world is.  In observing the Ecuadorian pipelines, transporting oil from ancestral lands to the rest of the world, we cannot help but notice that “everything is connected.”  From traditional hunters in the rainforest to oil seeping into our streams, from children playing in the river to a shaman attempting to cure a woman of cancer, from the international student hoping to change the world to the Amazonian youth wondering if her community will survive, it is all connected.  



 “Yo Soy como Tú” – Are you and I really that different? By continuously sharing our personal and community stories, we realize that there is also a human story, and to begin solving our problems, we must tell this story. One of our indigenous participants summed up the story in a spoken word poem that was part of our theatrical presentation. In reflecting on our multi-cultural group and our 9-day adventure, he finished with the simple phrase, “I am like you.” It had tremendous resonance with everyone, and we began to realize the transformative power of living and then telling our story. 
 
Promote Rehearsing Change at your college
Our study abroad program to begin Jan 2105

REHEARSING CHANGE is a semester-long, community-based study abroad program in the Ecuadorian Amazon.  Like no other program in the world, we focus on the simultaneous, equitable education of local counterparts, meaning students work and study on a daily basis with community members. Facilitated by leading scholars and teaching artists, we combine challenging academics, Arts for Conflict Transformation methodology and experiential/service learning. Our project-based classes ask participants to examine the conflicts between local and global realities, and to use dialogue and innovation to create change.  REHEARSING CHANGE is academically accredited by the University San Francisco de Quito, which provides official transcripts to international students. Write info@pachaysana.org for more info.


 
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Keep up with Pachaysana on-line.

Visit us on-line at our webpage, www.pachaysana.org, soon to be relaunched in a more user-friendly format.  Keep up with news and interesting articles at our facebook page: www.facebook.com/pachaysana.  If you have articles, photos, videos, etc that you think should be shared with our friends, please send them to info@pachaysana.org, or share them on the Facebook page. We especially appreciate information that explores globalization and its impact on community development, cultural identity and/or the environment; natural resource extraction; alternative education programming; new developments in study abroad; arts as empowerment; and multi-cultural, community-based initiatives.  
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