Immersion experience from May 28th to June 19th
LBST 390 Special Topics:Ethnography of Communication and Everyday Life: Food and Community
LBST 305 Globalization and Citizenship
Service Project Description:
Nearly 50% of Guatemala's children are malnourished, and in the Western Highlands where we will be, the malnutrition rate rises to about 70%, causing physical and mental stunting. Increasing globalization of markets along with an increasing population makes traditional milpa farming (nutritionally sound sustenance farming) inadequate for families, and there is no widespread cultural alternative. Following the lead of a local group, we will seek to address the issue of malnutrition through education. In Mercer on Mission--2012, this meant working with a school to set up a school garden that could be used both for lessons on nutrition and for nutritional use in school lunches. This time, we will work with students who are being mentored for Maya leadership in their communities, and develop culturally appropriate approaches to gardening that will lead to better nutrition.
What is new here is the idea of"cultivating" gardening as a cultural response to changing social conditions. This is the idea of our local partner in Guatemala. As family plots for milpa farming are subdivided through inheritance, fewer people have sufficient milpa plots (where they grow not only corn but also beans, tomatoes and chilies), and an alternative to traditional ways of gaining nutrition needs to be developed.Our effort is to educate future mentors about the importance of gardening as a feasible alternative for individuals who neither own enough milpa plots to sustain a whole family nor earn enough money simply to buy their produce.
For more information, e-mail MercerOnMission@mercer.edu or call (478) 301-2992.