Intercambio was wonderful week spent among 17 youth exchanges from Veracruz & Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico and Esteli & San Ramon, Nicaragua. The week was full of activities involving seed banks, youth networking, and panel discussions. Meeting this group of people changed my perspective on youth famers from speaking to a man with a family to speaking with university students in the Yucatan. The young man I had the opportunity to speak with spoke about the struggles with the government in Nicaragua along with poverty issues while the youth from the Yucatan spoke more about implementing gardens and better educating communities around their university. Youth from Estelí, Nicaragua spoke very passionately about their organization and the techniques they appreciated most when dealing with environmental hardships (water usage and water availability in homes).
The week involved a series of organization both on campus and off-campus: Food what, PICA, The Digital Nest in Watsonville, El Centro, and Mesa Verde Gardens to name a few. The activities were specifically to create networks between the youth here and the youth from Mexico and Nicaragua. We had three public events; one was conocimiento to meet the youth, a panel about their work, and a coffee cupping to meet the spectacular people who cultivate coffee beans.
Conocimiento was a great event because it was open to the public. UCSC students came to support us from 5-8pm for a table discussion and free food. The panel was during a Kresge class seminar so we had an entire lecture as audience and free snacks after the panel. Lastly, we had a coffee cupping at New Leaf on the west side where some of the cultivators spoke about their coffee practices and coffee struggles.
On the other hand, we also had activities that were closed off to FoCAN, CAN, and the international youth. Cocina compartida was one of my favorites, which translates to shared kitchen, because we had 4-5 groups preparing a meal from their own regions. The night was hectic but the food turned out great, folks were happy, and belly’s were filled. The other event I liked most was despedida, although it was a farewell dinner, the vibes in the room made all the best farewell. The youth had all of us laughing through dancing, singing, and eating. In sum, the week was a great turn out and the synergy among everyone brought hope for a better future and support from each other.
Special thanks to CAN staff, Intercambio Coordinator, FoCAN, and all those who helped make these events possible.