Glenda Xulú is one of the leaders of the SERES network. She is from Patzún, Guatemala, and was at San Juan del Obispo for our ESD Leadership Training Program. We took advantage of the lunch break to ask her a few questions about the training. Her answers filled up with hope.
How did you first discover or identify yourself as a leader?
Before I met SERES, I always loved to participate and get involved in groups. I’d always wanted to do something in my community but I always felt alone – nobody was looking for what I was looking for. But then at the first SERES youth congress I discovered I was wrong…there were many more folks that also wanted changes in the community.
So this congress was very important in your formation as a leader?
Sure thing. I always wanted to do something, but never knew where to start and more important: with whom? The discovery of my potential as a leader, a sense of empowerment, occurred as I discovered that I was not alone. Beside the things I learned, this congress was the opportunity I was waiting for to connect with other people from my community that also were interested in improving our lives and livelihood. SERES by itself isn’t a problem solver, it is just the trampoline you use to bounce off of to go and resolve problems for yourself.
What do you understand by “empowerment”?
It’s feeling capable of changing things.
What do you want to do with what you have learned in SERES?
Fuuu! So many things! The whole system wrong…how can we change it? Honestly, here in Guatemala there are so many things happening and there is a lot to be analyzed. I don’t know yet what are we gonna do but what we do have clear is that we have to do something. For now, personally, I need to keep developing my understanding and skills, and I would love to do this not alone but with my community, so I am thinking about opening new spaces in my community for this to happen.
In my family, we always ate junk food – something that is not healthy for ourselves or our planet. Consumerism is killing us and after a lot of talking and discussing with my mom, a lot of our unsustainable and unhealthy habits are changing. So this is something that already changed.
Do you think that by changing consumption habits the change that you dream of will occur?
I believe that this is a good point to start with, but there is a lot more to do. If more young people become empowered, step forward to lead and start implementing their action plans then things will begin to change. Development is all about education.
What do you understand by development?
Previously, I believed that development meant to have more things, paved streets, a school with iPads, more people with big televisions and all that stuff, but now I believe that development is more than that. What we have to develop is our way of thinking, our way of caring our Earth and each other.
Now we have a kitchen garden in our home, for example, and that is development. Development that isn’t sustainable is meaningless.
You have been talking about change, but for whom do you want things to change?
First I think about my community. There is where I want to see changes first. Of course I would love to see things changing in other countries but first I need to start where I live.
Can you imagine what are you going to be doing in 10 years?
I see myself having many connections with lots of people and using them to walk toward a better future. I used to see politics as something bad, but now I believe is very important to put attention to it if we want to improve our lives. But I don’t know yet, I am learning and preparing myself for whatever may come!