Recently, we (Antonio and Abigail) were selected to be part of the first generation of the Latin American Academy of Socio-Environmental Leadership (ALLSA). The academy, held in the highlands of Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic, was one of the most life-changing experience we have lived. Twenty seven young leaders and academics drawn together from across the Latin American continent, selected based on our commitment to the conservation of life and culture in our lands. After 10 days of intense connection, creation and change we come back as better learners and facilitators, full of fresh new ideas and today, we want to share that experience with you!
For me, Abigail, what I enjoyed the most was having the invitation and privilege to interact with all the elements that enable life…watching what is around us and learning to let life kindle us with it’s beauty, shape, color, sound and constant movement. Participating in the deep ecology process filled me with hope, as I reconnected with the knowledge of my “abuelos” (elders) from long ago, remembering their stories and realizing that what they talked about is still alive, all around us. I heard their words of wisdom in my head throughout the training program, remembering how they explained about the importance of the q’utuneem (to ask permission, remember and recognize) the k’aslemaal (the grain of life) and the importance of loq’oq’j (respect and care for all life). I found their teachings similar to the findings of philosophy and coherent with the academic views on ambiental issues that we touched on in the training.
In my case, Antonio, I’m sure that ALLSA has strengthened me as a social leader. We were among a incredible and diverse group. They challenged us to get out from our comfort zone. Science and philosophy are no longer distant and impossible disciplines for me. It reconfirmed my personal belief that together we can make an impact. Seeing and realizing once again the thread that bind us in our common humanity, I am more committed and inspired to keep going.
We are anxious and motivated to share these new skills and tools with our SERES family. We feel inspired and invigorated by this experience and now, back at home and full of energy, knowing that we are not along, we feel that the force of change driving this transformation that we are all working for is unstoppable.
Coming out of the Academy, we feel clearer about our priorities moving forward: we have to continue to make our network of leaders. Despite differences, there are also many places where our work converges with others. Sharing our process and listening can make ours and others more efficient and solid. We also know how important it is to keep creating and building a common vision: for a more just, sustainable, healthy and equitable future.
This is a promise: we will keep pushing forward. Together, we are building future.
Antonio y Abigail