Emily Grijalva


Boyle Heights, California
Community School Coordinator
Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School


Trips as a Global Glimpse Leader:

First one in summer 2023!


What drove you to become an educator?

Coming to college and realizing that I didn’t know much about my history, the authors from my community, etc, there was a specific moment during my Sociology class when my professor shared a documentary that delved into the Guatemalan genocide, and I remember being so shamed that I didn’t know that this had happened. During the break in the film, I called my mom asking her why I didn’t know about the Civil War in Guatemala, to which she responded “we don’t talk about these things”. I remember feeling as though I had been cheated a little bit from my education, and whenever people would ask me who my favorite Guatemalan author was, I couldn’t answer. So this led me through a self-discovery process where I began studying the history and literature of Guatemala and eventually all of LatinX communities, and I realized then that I wanted to be an educator that included my students’ backgrounds, ethnicities, community heroes, current events, etc. so they wouldn’t ever feel the way that I did, not knowing yourself and where you came from. I think you need to know your roots in order to understand other folks. As an English teacher and how I continue to live now, I really try to make sure that my students’ lives are reflected in my work.


Why do you think it’s important for young people to develop a global perspective?

I’m very fortunate that I got to grow up both in LA and Guatemala, and it molded me to be able to adapt to different environments in terms of learning to read the room more and knowing how and when to code-switch. It also gave me perspective when it came to understanding privilege – poverty and racism in Guatemala look very different from poverty and racism in Los Angeles- including my own privilege. It also gave me a sense of responsibility and I felt I needed to speak up and use my privilege to support both communities. So that’s why it’s so important to have a global perspective. The saying “think global, act local” is about knowing that we can have an impact, and even though it might only be our little community, ultimately having that perspective does make a difference. Sometimes we’re stuck because of circumstances in one particular area, so it may be hard to imagine beyond that, but I think when we are able to travel with students and take them to other countries, they’ll become more aware, act accordingly, and want to make a difference in the world.


What are you most excited about for your upcoming Global Glimpse trip?

For many of these students, it’s the first time they have even taken out a passport, let alone time travel to countries such as Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica. I know for a fact that when you visit other countries, it just opens up your mind and you learn so much about others beyond your “community bubble”. You realize there are other ways of living, and it really challenges the biases you may have about certain communities. So I’m excited about them experiencing travel for the first time, coming back and sharing what they’ve learned about other communities and going through that whole process!