By Luis Sanchez, Guatemala
Hello everyone! I am Luis Sánchez from Guatemala and I live in the city of Cobán in the north of Guatemala. I have a beautiful family consisting of my lovely wife Katalyna and my precious little daughter Victoria, who, despite the distance, have supported me greatly in this process. I work for the Federation of Cooperatives of the Verapaces, where I planning various projects with the goal of improving the living conditions in cooperatives and among their members.
I remember the day I received the email informing me that I had been selected for the PFP. It was a very exciting moment, considering that it was the second time that I had applied for this prestigious program. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to leave my family, work, and the business for 6 weeks.
I had never had such an emotional farewell at the airport, but I boarded that plane with a lot of faith, hope, and joy, determined to make this sacrifice worthwhile. I get along quite well with my fellow Guatemalan participants, which has made this journey quite enjoyable.
Upon arriving at the ITD house, I was pleasantly surprised to find a small note with a lot of love from my wife. In it, she reminded me to enjoy this journey, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing ever since.
Then we made a trip to New York, an amazing city where there’s nothing you can’t do, and where the bright lights inspire you, as the song “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys says. For me, it was a great experience to visit the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Rockefeller Center, Dumbo, Columbia University, Times Square, and Central Park; places I had only seen on television and wanted to see in person.
The first week was quite intense. We got to learn about the United States Constitution and the necessary balance of powers in a democracy. We also had a discussion about the democratic in Latin America and the United States. Additionally, we had the opportunity to meet the ITD team, consisting of Mark, Katie, Stephen Edgardo, and Yanara. They have all taken great care of us and provided support from day one.
After returning from New York, I moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, where my fellowship host, The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), is located. I am very grateful to Catherine Ratte for all her support during my stay at PVPC. She has organized a very interesting agenda that will help me understand how projects are planned here in the United States. I have also learned a lot about the cooperative movement, as well as the entrepreneurial vision and work culture in the United States, where time is money.
This journey is far from over; we are in the halfway, so there is still much to learn, experience, and enjoy. I don’t intend to be a role model by any means, but what I can say is that perseverance pays off, and that the impossible only exists in our minds. I am very grateful to God, my whole family, FEDECOVERA, ITD, and the U.S. Department of State for this opportunity.”
All opinions expressed by the program participants are their own and do not represent nor reflect official views from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, or of the Institute for Training and Development, Inc.