Donne Gonzales Reflects on Encuentro Experience

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By Donne Gonzales

This summer I attended an Escuelita de las Acequias encuentro hosted by NMAA. It was a very motivating and fun experience. Being a youth participant there was really amazing. I always feel like I want to make change and help keep my community strong in tradition. While it is easy to become busy with school, technology, and friends, it is nice to have support in knowing that culture is cool.

The two days I spent with this group was a blessing. From the beginning, we had a plant offering that was really beautiful. There was a variety of remedios, fruit, and everyday objects we use. Everyone brought something different to the table and I learned so much from it.

The first day the youth got to talk with each other and figure out what our final tarea (project) is going to be. We shared ideas, and talked about who could help us, and what we needed to help us finish our projects to reflect upon at our next encuentro. My project is only part of a bigger final product. James Rodriguez and I are working on collecting stories about Chamisal Acequias, while my brother Toribio is working on a list of remedios that are found alongside the acequias here. We are all after the history – who dug them out, when they were dug, and who has kept them maintained.

On the second day, the youth worked on a collage of what was meaningful and powerful to us, as well as all that has drawn us away from traditions. We got to present the collage as well as our tarea ideas. The elders were more than happy to see what we had been working on and they all had praise for the good work we have done. They promised they'd help with whatever we needed in the future! It was interesting to hear the many stories, and everyone there had so much knowledge to share.