In the second of a 2-part series, Reality Tours Argentina program officer Delia Marx shares with us in an interview conducted by our intern Kathleen Reynolds, her impressions on the enriching impacts of educational exchange. You can read Part 1 here.
Kathleen: Looking back, what inspired you to facilitate Reality Tours?
Delia: People are so willing to share, obviously their successes but also their struggles. The little things that are going on and there are many of them. After that first experience I was totally hooked. That was when I decided to do it as soon and as often as possible and I did!
Kathleen: If you were to highlight a particular moment as a RT Leader what would that be?
Delia: I think people worry about having different views on things. Somehow I pride myself on not telling people what’s going on. I’m just an intermediate. I’m just a translator. We go straight to the source. We talk to people. I think that the experience is very transformational. I don’t give my point of view, aside from the fact that I create the program. I select what we are doing based on what we can learn.
I remember one comment that I was really struck by. It was with an assembly organization that makes decisions by consensus, so you have to get everybody on board before you go ahead with anything. A man said to me, yes it was a long process, people were forever discussing and never coming to an agreement. It took a long time to trust one another but once there was trust, everything went much more smoothly.
One of the highlights of our tours is a visit with the Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo, grandparents who are still looking for their ‘disappeared’ grandchildren. There are several stories of success in finding these children whose identities were stolen. Can you imagine? These children sometimes were ‘adopted’ by the torturers of their parents! The case of the Abuelas was instrumental in the successful research for identification of blood relationship with a missing generation in between. Normally you can establish fatherhood of a child through blood analysis, but here the parents were missing and the research needed to be done to ascertain relationship through the blood of the grandparents instead. Now the Abuelas are dying. They are mostly in their 80’s but they created a blood bank for the future! One ‘Abuela’ that has recovered her grandson fairly recently said: “I got a new grandson, only that he is 30 years old!”
Kathleen: What does make the difference, why do people choose to travel to Argentina with Global Exchange Reality Tours?
Delia: First of all a big portion of the cost of a Reality Tour program is airfare. Some people take advantage of being there already and they combine some other tour agenda in Argentina of which there are many. So keep in mind that you can stay a few days before or after the tour and visit the scenic parts of Argentina, we could go on and on about that but the portion of the Reality Tour is what as the name says “Reality”. The cost of the tour also includes contributions to the organizations we visit. This enhances the sense of participation on the part of the travelers and supports the work the organizations are doing. Your vacation dollars are working for a good cause. What brings you closer to the people is the direct connection to people. You are there sitting with them and you’re listening. Listening to the stories and listening to their experience and most fortunately you’re learning from them.
We are now witness to the global economic crisis in the United States and in Europe and in many other places in the world, something that may be new to many of us. Argentineans found many of their solutions, many of their ways out. People come to the understanding that there are alternatives that can be implemented here and now without waiting for somebody else to come and rescue us. Finding that in your community, in your peers with the people that surround you is very enriching.
Thank you Delia for the years of effort and energy that you have put into organizing and facilitating our Reality Tours to Argentina.
Experience for yourself: Join our “Building Economic Justice from Below” trip this November and experience Argentina first-hand.