America's Teaching Garden

Monday, June 10 2019 Written by

Buenas,

This past week I had the opportunity to engage in different cultural events around my park and was able to participate in applied, hands-on work. To kick off the weekend, my wonderful supervisor and I spent our Thursday morning clearing a space that will hopefully become a teaching garden in the next few months beside Fort Sumter. It was cathartic to watch a patch of land overrun by weeds become more and more uncluttered. I definitely enjoyed the tactile aspect of it. Being able not only to envision what we wanted the garden to be, but to then set out to make that vision a reality was very rewarding.  

Later that afternoon, I visited the Old Slave Mart Museum in downtown Charleston. I was taken aback by how little I actually knew of the slave trade. 40% of all US slaves passed through Charleston, right through the land that I now work on. All of the information presented to me made me question my place as a Latino woman in this new city, and what kind of change I would like to make here. Being a minority in the general populace can, at times, be very discouraging, although it should not be so. I began to doubt what kind of an impact I could make, solely because I felt as though injustice was to be rivaled by a larger group of people, rather than a small, 21 year old, me. Visiting the museum was a large catalyst in my project planning because it set into motion a passion to rally for change and inclusion.

Sunday afternoon, I went to a poetry reading at Mcleod Plantation. It was a part of a longer series of African American poetry readings that would be taking place on land where many African Americans had once been enslaved, abused, and killed. It was extremely powerful. I heard poet Roger Reeves, who works as a university professor in African American Literature, read his work. In the last poem he read aloud, titled “Children Listen”, the closing lines read “Children / You were never meant to be human / You must be the grass / You must grow wildly over the graves”. Reeves’ poem helped me to see that a general healing is in order.

Through several projects that focus on resource education that I plan on holding this summer, I hope to establish a stronger presence of inclusion for all that choose to partake. I will hold what I learned in the past few days close to my heart and keep in mind that the beauty of America is its people, diverse and equal. We are all the flowers of America’s garden and we must learn to bloom and grow side by side, wildly with fervor. We are the teaching garden.

Hasta la próxima.