It has been 50 years since George Ann Huck’s first visit to Mexico on an Abraham Lincoln Scholarship. Many things have changed since then! Her time in Mexico, and Yucatán, inspired her to study Latin American Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans. And as she explains in her book WOMEN OF YUCATÁN: THIRTY WHO DARE TO CHANGE THEIR WORLD, co-authored with Jann E. Freed: 50 years later there are also many things in Mexico which have not changed.

The moment when the pair decided to publish a book, like so many things in life, is not exact. George Ann feels that the book was brewing inside her long before the first interview took place or the first photo was taken. And like so many of our lives, her path had a certain destiny about it. She eventually finished her Ph.D. in The Golden Age of Spanish Drama. In 1968 she accepted a teaching position with Central College in Iowa for their new international study program in Mérida. She came to work in the spring of 1969, and then returned in 1971 to stay. In 1979 she met Gabriel Ramírez Aznar, renowned Yucatecan artist. They have been together ever since and currently live in Itzimná. She retired from her position as director of the Central College Abroad program in 2005.

George Ann credits her passion for social justice to her time spent with the Maryknoll nuns who owned the school that first embraced the college program. “Though we seemed such unlikely partners, I am indebted to the Maryknolls for countless lessons about community, culture, and justice, for opening my eyes to the ‘other’”.

Yes, there are many things which have not changed. In the words of the book jacket: “In the strongly patriarchal society of the Mexican state of Yucatán, it’s not surprising that few women have dared to challenge the gender inequalities set against them at birth. They live in an environment where rape can often be forgotten as a crime if the victim agrees to marry her aggressor and where negative pregnancy tests are often a prerequisite for employment in the maquiladora factories. This book profiles 30 women who have dared to challenge such injustices and dramatically transform their situations. From local theatre directors and choreographers to civic leaders and politicians, each woman formed a unique leadership of circumstance dependent largely on the context of her personal experiences. The profiles [written by George Ann], based on personal interviews and supplemented by photographs [taken by Jann], describe the women’s accomplishments and motivations as well as the obstacles they have confronted.”

Today George Ann is busy with U Yits KA’AN (an agriculture school in Maní); the Red de Mujeres por Nuestros Derechos; and Mérida Verde. The book is available from Amazon. A portion of the proceeds go to a women’s scholarship program.

Recommended reading:
Face to Face: Paula Sievert
Face to Face: Erich Briehl
Face to Face: Abel Vasquez and Melva Medina
Face to Face: Mathieu & Stephanie Bress
Face to Face: Monique Duval
Face to Face: Dr. Carlos Cabrera
Face to Face: Ralf Hollmann
Face to Face: Connie Leal Delgado
Face to Face: Wayne Trotter

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