Laura Burns

Laura Burns (The Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management - SATIIM): For her undergraduate studies, Laura attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she majored in International Studies and Environmental Studies. At the time of her fellowship, Laura was studying International Development at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, Denver University, with a concentration in Environmental, Sustainable Development in Latin America and Humanitarian Assistance. Laura has volunteered for sustainable ecotourism in Costa Rica, and In Ecuador for Fundación Runa, a fair trade organic tea company. After her fellowship Laura wrote: "The best aspect of my fellowship was, by far, working with the women of Santa Teresa. I feel very fortunate that I was able to spend time with the women. I was reminded that what I enjoy most is really talking to people, listening to what they have to say, and sharing it with others. I was reminded that sometimes, it just takes a person willing to share that story, to make someone feel great."


14 Aug

I just came back from my last visit with the women of Santa Teresa, and while I have the excited buzz I always have when I come back from visiting the women, I’m also sad. I’ve previously mentioned how wonderful these women are, and I am sincerely going to miss all of them very much. We had a great afternoon, reviewing all the photos I have taken of them, joking about the process, and finally, showing them the short movie clip I made about the women. It was a great feeling to watch these women watch their movie, the women alternating between laughter, shyness, and pride.


Watching the movie
Watching the movie


As the afternoon stretched on and after our meeting ended, I made house visits to each of the women I was working with. The reason? Cameras aren’t readily available in these areas, and so I, for the afternoon, turned into Laura The Traveling Family Photographer. I went from home to home, waiting for the women to comb their hair and the men to change their clothing, choosing the best spots for the photos, making ridiculous faces to get the children to look at me, and trying to remember every second of it. I’ll be printing these dozens of photos, and  sending them back to Santa Teresa, so the families can have what will be for many, their first family photo.

After finishing all the photos, and after a fantastic meal prepared by Paulina, her sister, and her mother, Cordelia and I piled back into our truck to begin the journey back to Punta Gorda. It’s a hard feeling, leaving these women, and I must say that I was feeling a bit down this evening. And then I plugged in my camera, and my Flip Camera. And then, I was laughing out loud.

A little background first: A couple visits ago, while waiting for the women to arrive at the meeting, I handed my Flip Camera to one of the boys who was obviously curious about what it could do. He spent the most of that afternoon directing various children and taking different footage, which I eventually turned into a movie for him, and which he, and all his actors, greatly enjoyed.


The Proud Videographers and Actors Watching Their Movie
The Proud Videographers and Actors Watching Their Movie


So today when I arrived, the first thing I did was hand him the Flip Camera. And he got to work quickly. He spent a good hour taking footage, and he got pretty creative. He interviewed some random man and took shots of men leaving lunch to go back to the field. He took video of my computer, as I showed the other children pictures of snow. He focused on the campaign material of a candidate his family supported in the latest election (if anyone wants a great close-up shot of Juan McCoy, especially his nose or left eye, you know where to come). He stealthily took footage of me meeting with the women. He took a great shot of the blistering sun through the tree canopy. But the one that made me laugh the hardest, was the footage he took of a flyer describing Swine Flu, what to look for, and how to prevent it. I’m pretty sure this one has a career waiting for him in videography, so Belize better watch out.


The Great Videographer Continues
The Great Videographer Continues


I realize this has been a bit of a rambling blog post, covering a lot of different topics, but that is where my head is this evening, racing from one thing to the next. But, if there is one uniting thread in all of these little vignettes, it is that I am thankful. Thankful that I was able to meet these women. Thankful that I was able to help them in some small way. Thankful that I was given a peek into their lives. Thankful that this little boy could have so much fun, and be so talented, with such a small little item. And thankful that the video he took will provide me memories and laughs for years to come.

Posted By Laura Burns

Posted Aug 14th, 2012

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