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Rise from the Rubble
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Finding our interconnected story

From surviving to living…

As most of you surely know, Ecuador recently suffered a terrible tragedy. On the evening of April 16, an earthquake of 7.8 caused severe damage and took hundreds of lives (660 to date) on our coastal region. While rescuers worked to save those trapped under the rubble and thousands of citizens mobilized to do whatever they could for the over 20,000 people without homes and many thousands more without basic needs such as food and water, Pachaysana stood in silent solidarity from the Amazon region.

Aside of offering our donations to the cause, as so many of you have done, we wondered how we could help. The tropics of the jungle felt like a different planet from the tropics just on the other side of the Andes. It was clearly a time for survival and we felt paralyzed, just as so many of you feel paralyzed when witnessing such events on the news. And it raises the important question: what is our role?

Finding interconnectedness with Wilson Pico

Recognizing the interconnected story…

Many of our newsletters and blogs focus on the learning about and from interconnectedness, and now we echo the sentiment with relationship to distant human tragedy. I will do so by sharing what we learned in a Rehearsing Change workshop led by our faculty member, Javier Cevallos. Called Llaktayuk, students and community participants create a type of family tree in which they envision their personal story as linked to family and ancestors. That tree was then rooted into a place, or places, so that we could feel our stories coming from a connection to the world. The places could be a physical community, numerous communities, virtual communities, the globe, etc. Then we start to dialogue about our place(s) as connected with the places of the others in the group, and we realize that they are interconnected. Thus, our stories are interconnected because their roots are nourished by a shared place.

Rehearsing Change is Fair Trade Study Abroad

Creating… together.


The world is large and complex, perhaps overwhelming so. When faced with human tragedy in such a chaotic space, we cannot help but feel helpless and disconnected. While your financial donations help with the process of survival, and we recommend that you continue to donate (see La Poderosa Media Project and this article by the Huffington Post for donations), we believe your role is more about the transition from surviving to living. Survival means taking care of the most basic needs in order to stay alive, but no one lives to survive. We live to engage with others and create a better world. We live to tell our stories and find greater meaning in the shared experience with that world.

So, at Pachaysana, we believe our real role is preparing for those distant human tragedies that will surely occur in the future. Simply put, in addition to donations, we ask you to react to the destruction with creation. Create stories with others so that you feel a true connection with them. Then, with time, we will realize that our stories are connected with those who we do not even know: for example, a recently orphaned 12-year old girl on Ecuador’s coast. She lost so much of her Llaktayuk. Her family story appears to be destroyed, her tree grips the soil tightly to simply stay alive; yet, because we have prepared, we now know that her story is intermingled with our story. We will sense her desperate act to save her story because we do not want to lose a part of our stories. At that time, our role will be clearer, and we will know how to transform surviving to living.
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