"We don't get it. One day she says we should do one thing, and then the next day she says something different." This statement is felt by all but spoken by Carmen, a student from one of the two communities involved in the project. The Maya youth in the Guatemalan pueblos of Chirijox and San Juan La Laguna speak Spanish and their indigenous language. My language limitations leave me temporarily in the dark. I do not completely comprehend her words, but the anxiety is evident. My coworker Marisol explains the tension.
I have encountered this "problem" many times while working with youth. Students expect teachers to direct them what to do, when and how. This educational custom is present in Guatemala, especially for indigenous youth. Learning is scripted and disconnected from culture and community. There is little room for creativity or critical thinking. As a result, students are not used to having a say in their own learning, let alone directing it. However, during their participation in Unlocking Silent Histories, they are in charge, not me.