Images of success
These images represent the successful completion of the «Universal goals of parenthood». On the left are several young adult Maya-Americans working in the milpa. At the heart of the Maya food-production system is the milpa—a farm plot of multiple species growing at multiple levels below, on, and above the surface of the land. For thousands of years the milpa system has been the basis for food production, social relationships, and beliefs of the Maya people. In his book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus (2005, there is Spanish edition: 1491: Una nueva historia de las Américas antes de Colón, 2006), Charles Mann described the milpa as, «[…] a field, usually but not always recently cleared, in which farmers plant a dozen crops at once including maize, avocados, multiple varieties of squash and bean, melon, tomatoes, chilis, sweet potato, jicama (a tuber), amaranth (a grain-like plant), and mucuna (a tropical legume). […] Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally complementary […] The milpa […] is one of the most successful human inventions ever created. » The milpa is not only a physical entity but also a symbolic conceptualization of the best and true way to live. The milpa is a sociocultural construct and involves complex social, economic, and political relationships between farmers, as well as with the crops and land. In terms of human ecology, the creation of milpa is a sacred act that binds the family, the community, and the universe together. The milpa is a core institution of Maya society, providing in equal measure nutritional, economic, social, and religious importance. To be a successful adult Maya is to create, care for, and live from the milpa.
The photograph on the right shows three adults from Sikkim, India. A Ph.D. student at an Indian University is flanked by his former primary school teachers. The student was taking several people on a tour of schools in the town where the student grew-up. The meeting with his former teachers, now retired, was fortuitous. The event elicited the following comment, «This is a moment, I literally experienced transition I went through in my life. An unexpected journey from school to university. The photograph is special to me because it was taken by a well-known professor and now my mentor with my primary school teachers at the entrance of the school on a sudden revisit.» The teachers were very proud of the student’s success in education, knowing that they helped to instill the value of learning from an early age. The student’s family faced many social and political obstacles to their well-being, including not being from the favored caste and religion. Nevertheless, the family, the teachers, and others worked cooperatively to support the student to become a successful adult. He completed his Ph.D. and is continuing his path to become a university researcher and teacher. [Barry Bogin]