Kenji Tomari Travels to Guatemala

Posted April 10, 2018

By Kenji Tomari

The Jastro award allowed me to purchase a camera and audio recording equipment, as well as allowed for some travel while I was on my fellowship in Guatemala to do some basic archival research. Prior to embarking on my fellowship to Guatemala, I had intended to use the audio/visual equipment to record short video documentaries of indigenous culture and practices around agroecology for curricular purposes by a Q’eqchi’ Maya school being founded in El Petén, Guatemala. Unfortunately, the project did not go forward, and the equipment was used for other purposes, primarily for some exploratory interviews and to document meetings between my team of UC Davis students and our local partner ACDIP in order to review our often long discussions.



Fig 1. The new secondary school being founded by the partner organization I worked with in
the summer of 2017. The campus is located 15 minutes from the organization’s office in La
Libertad, El Petén, Guatemala.

However, there was also a secondary purpose for purchasing the audio/visual equipment. The equipment will be used to support future research efforts in capturing audio from focus groups and interviews and conducting photo elicitation studies. I am currently in the process of applying for grant applications that will underwrite this upcoming research. Therefore, my intention is to return to Guatemala with this critical set of equipment. Given this secondary purpose, I still feel the Jastro award, coupled with my RIFA fellowship, provided a great deal of immediate support for me in the exploratory phase of my research even as my initial plans were not able to be executed as it allowed me two important opportunities: to practice interview skills, and to provide some photography work in building rapport with two non-profit organizations, the BioItzá in San José and Fundación ProPetén in Flores, which I hope to work with in future development and research projects in El Petén, Guatemala.



Fig 2. A Q’eqchi’ Maya ceremony for the inauguration of the
ACDIP secondary school.