One evening in 1998, in the village of Piste, Mexico near world-famous Chichen Itza, ONE AMERICA Program creator Bob Martin was talking with a Mayan friend named Umberto. They were discussing various cultural differences between the United States and Mexico.
Responding to a remark by Umberto, Martin stated, “Well, in America, we do that THIS way!”
Umberto smiled. He gestured to the area around him, and quietly remarked, “THIS is America too, my friend. In fact, it’s NORTH America!”
That incident, emphasizing the lesser-realized common hemispheric heritage of all Americans inspired the naming of the ONE AMERICA Program.
ONE AMERICA was created by the not-for-profit Tree-Land Foundation, Inc. in 1998, to expand Tree-Land’s environmental education and conservation program in Maryland to Mexico. The goal was to bring together young people from different American cultures and provide them with international learning opportunities through interaction and cooperation. Youth groups traveled to the small Maya village of Yaxunah (yah-shoo-NAH) on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.
There, they lived and worked together on volunteer environmental, health, cultural, and historical service projects. They gained leadership skills, learned the importance of tolerance, responsibility, teamwork, gratitude, and cultural acceptance and understanding. They also learned that "Americans" don't live only in the U.S.! The lessons they learned there apply worldwide. Events on and since September 11, 2001, have made the ONE AMERICA Program’s values and goals more important and more necessary than ever.
Recent archaeological discoveries in Yaxunah were expected to turn this quiet 4000-year-old, mostly agrarian village into a tourist destination. ONE AMERICA participants worked with U.S. and Mexican anthropologists, environmentalists, the Yucatan Cultural Foundation, the Yucatan government, and the 600 indigenous Maya of Yaxunah on various service projects. Projects were chosen for their environmental, ecological, educational, health-related, cultural, or historical benefits in an effort to acclimate villagers to the social and economic changes tourism will bring.
Although we are no longer operating the ONE AMERICA program, this was an important part of our early charitable work and led directly to the opening of the first vision clinic under our GLOBAL re-VISION Network program in 2007.
If you have any questions about ONE AMERICA, please contact us at the email below and we will be happy to discuss our experiences with you.