I wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times last month in response to a series of articles Nick Kristoff had published about Central America. It wasn’t chosen for publication there, but, hey, I can publish it here! It’s still relevant, perhaps ever more so.
The problems are clear, manifold and complex. But so is at least one solution. If we double down on education and create meaningful opportunity, the trajectory changes. Having hope matters. This is a human truth, and it transcends boundaries. A robust education creates hope, opportunity, and a path forward, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. This path requires investment, leadership, humility, and commitment. But this path also produces long-term results, in addition to being one of the most all-encompassing and humane.
June 6, 2019
Dear Mr. Feyer/To the Editor:
Re: “Food Doesn’t Grow Here Anymore. That’s Why I Would Send My Son North” (Opinion, June 5)
Mr. Kristof’s column highlights the conundrum of the immigration crisis on our southern border. In communities without opportunity, where climate change has destroyed harvests and survival is a daily struggle, what choice do people have but to leave?
Antagonizing immigrants at the border isn’t going to change the hopelessness they are fleeing. Creating real and meaningful opportunities for their future does. A robust education is a fundamental pathway toward this goal. The MAIA Impact School, a secondary school for indigenous girls in Solola, Guatemala, is an exemplar of best practices in this area.
MAIA, led by Mayan women, provides not only academic opportunity, but also the mentoring and support students and their families need to navigate this unfamiliar road. Imagine the trickle-down impacts when empowered, educated girls become empowered, educated mothers. Educating girls and family planning are two of the top ten solutions to climate change, according to a study by Project Drawdown. Education provides a transformative solution to systemic poverty and climate change, expanding generationally like the roots of a strong tree.
That’s what I wanted the New York Times to share. Bold, audacious, selfless solutions.
For more information and recent perspectives on Guatemala, below are links to articles from a range of sources:
And because it’s an awesome moment, here is a video of a band greeting people at the arrivals terminal in the Guatemala City airport.