HISTORY, CULTURE, AND POLITICS: “THE U.S. HAD A FUNDAMENTAL ROLE IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY”
The most important considerations in selecting volunteers to visit Waslala, according to Gasparini, are “that they have historical, socio-cultural, economic and political knowledge about Waslala and Nicaragua”. This knowledge is considered more important than any technical skills or knowledge related to the work or projects. In another statement, Gasparini commented on the importance of shared austerity and accompaniment for students to learn about structures or history and the influence on current circumstances in Waslala. He wrote,
In the sense that [the students] will never forget the experience they had, til the last day of their lives they will remember that they were in Nicaragua, that they dealt with challenges, that they walked in the mud, that they stepped in cow poop and that people need someone to share with them because they were not born in the same reality, they did not have the opportunity to have a good job, they did not have the opportunity for a quality education and it is not their fault.
This comment reflects Spivak’s call to acknowledging complicity and Andreotti’s (2007) related explanation of learning about not only human rights, but also “human wrongs.”
During Reynolds’ dissertation data collection, one of the community organization representatives commented about the U.S. role in the history of Nicaragua, specifically the Contra war, and the importance that Villa- nova students understand some of that history. Echoing Gasparini’s desire for student volunteers to learn about history, culture, and politics before coming to Waslala, she stated,
I think it would be good if it is not just an experience with a water system or with a group of health leaders, but also related with some of the history. It helps to understand that it was a war financed by the U.S. and it is hard when people come from the U.S. to talk about the past and the role of the U.S . . . but the U.S. has had a fundamental role in the history of this country.
This alludes to Spivak’s call for recognizing complicity in hyper-reflexivity when engaging the ‘Other’ in the developing world. Spivak calls for a responsibility to the ‘Other’ not to help, but a responsibility because of our complicity in past relations in history.