By Ira and Cameron

Rather than writing individual blog posts, Ira and Cameron, our two leaders of the day today decided to have a conversation about determination and the things they saw today. I recorded their main ideas and transcribed the following summary of their conversation:

“On the way up the volcano, a lot of people had kind of like small shops or buildings that they sold stuff out of. That felt very different than other places I have hiked – like a National Park in the US. The people clearly lived right around the area and I wondered about their everyday walk. I wondered how much effort it took for these people just to have the chance to make a little bit of money. I couldn’t see houses from the shops so it must have been at least a few miles to their house. I thought a lot about the determination of the Guatemalan people and their ability to make something out of nothing. I thought about how much I would struggle in the same setting. It made me question what I am really determined to do. Why could it be so different?” -Ira

“While I sat and watched the guides, tourists, and horsemen interact, I thought a lot about interactions and how people approach each other. I watched a particular group of little kids trying to get hikers to use their walking sticks. They seemed to know which people were more likely to pay for their sticks – and it seemed that the foreigners were the easiest target. Why? I think it’s because the people here are from these mountains. Even if they live in the city, their bodies evolved for these mountains. So, why would they need a stick? I didn’t even hike the volcano and I felt like I wanted one just to walk around the parking lot. I feel like when I am back home, it’s not the same as what I have seen here. My friends and I don’t really do the same thing – we don’t approach people with the same purpose that we saw here.” -Cameron

“I saw that a lot today, with people being persistent about making a sale and taking advantage of the opportunity.” -Ira

“Coming to a developing country, I expected to see desperate people. I expected to see people who would do anything for just a little bit of money. Here, I have seen more determined people. I see people going way out of their way to interact and to learn and to sell.” -Cameron

“I see people wanting to talk to tourists and learn and share ideas. I thought about the same thing if we were back in the US, and I don’t think people would be as open. So it makes me feel like they’re determined more than desperate here. The determination is obvious in how they approach even answering a question – the WANT you to understand in the same way that they WANT you to buy or they WANT to earn. It’s not out of desperation but out of determination.” -Ira

“In the city, determination was more familiar. It felt like the same determination I know from back home, where everyone is competing with each other and the numbers of people make businesses kinda boom. It felt like it was harder, so determination had to be more competitive.” -Cameron

“In a smaller town, like the ones we drove through, it seemed like there was less competition but more cooperation in the determination to sell. We saw people selling the same items side by side, working together to attract as many sales as possible. Their determination seems like part of their identity as a culture rather than a unique personality that might get people to win over someone else like in the US. I still have a lot to see and think about when it comes to understanding the determination of these people. What do they really want? How does education and culture fit in? Does determination pay off? Or do people end up desperate in spite of their determination?” -Ira

3 responses to “Determination: A Conversation”

  1. Mollie Avatar

    Cameron and Ira, thanks for sharing your conversation. From my experience, I often feel a sense of respect when I encounter determined people. Respect for the hard work that goes along with that determination. Respect for almost always overcoming some odds. I wonder if you will continue to observe and understand this determination not as one teetering on desperation but one grounded in respect of self and place. I am curious to learn more through your conversations and experiences!

  2. Cameron’s mom Avatar
    Cameron’s mom

    Wow! This is a powerful dialogue. Thanks for sharing this. I can’t wait to hear where you go next.

  3. Haley Wilbanks Avatar
    Haley Wilbanks

    One of my favorite ways of taking notes has you fill in two categories: “What you notice” and “What you wonder”. Cameron you might remember it from science last year. I’ve always liked this structure because it takes one set of skills to be able to notice and really observe something about where you are…then it requires you to make connections…and then you have to use a different set of skills to wonder something new about your subject!! It all builds on itself. This post is FULL of noticings and wonderings – and you can see here how each of those pieces help your conversation and learning evolve. Keep noticing and wondering – you’re in a great place to do it!

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