Philanthropiece Scholar Education TeamPhilanthropiece Advisory Board member, Rachel Fuchs, made her first trip to Chajul, Guatemala in February 2013. During this Insight Trip, Rachel, who in her daily life serves as the Academic Director for Intercambio Uniting Communities in Boulder, supported the Philanthropiece Scholar Education Team as they developed their Community Project proposal. Here, Rachel shares her thoughts on the impact that the trip had on her.

I had lofty expectations for the recent advisory board trip to Chajul, Gautemala. Having had the opportunity to meet with those involved in our community projects in Baja, Mexico in the fall of 2009, I knew the bar was high. So much of Philanthropiece programming relies on the relationships that we form, it only seems fitting to offer the Advisory Board an opportunity to develop relationships of their own.

As a “working” Advisory Board, we offer more than just direction. We strive to also hold our own sticks to the fire. Thus, meeting the folks we work with in their communities allows us to shape the work we do to meet their needs – not just our own. You are probably familiar with the golden rule of ethical reciprocity. Philanthropiece functions with a twist to this vision. Rather than treating people the way we want to be treated, we treat people the way they want to be treated. And, there is no better way to be able to do that than by witnessing people function in their daily lives on their own turf and forming personal relationships on an individual basis.

I left the Baja trip more than three years ago with a sense of understanding, compassion, pride and camaraderie for the community’s members – one that wouldn’t have been fully possible without having experienced life there, if for only a few days. That visit was key in shaping the way I continue to formulate questions about our work in Baja, and the emotional and intellectual gravity through which I can truly dive into it. In many ways, it was a life-changing experience. So, as I’d stated earlier – the bar for Chajul was high. Having recently returned, I am imagining how the insights that I gained will serve Philanthropiece’s work in Chajul.  If the depth of relationships I was able to form during the insight trip offer any forecast, there are great things to come.

In the photo, Rachel (far right), stands with fellow Philanthropiece teammates. From left to right: Lee Lazar, Advisory Board member, Juan Camilo, Lupita Pedro Tomas, Eliseo Imul Calel, and Elicia Asicona  – all members of the Philanthropiece Scholars Education Team, and Katie Doyle Myers, Philanthropiece Director of Programs.