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Rigoberta Menchú helps Bay Area volunteers celebrate Earth Day

23rd April 2015

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchú and Google volunteers celebrate Earth Day

On Monday April 20th, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchú led a conservation effort with dozens of Google volunteers to celebrate Earth Day and inspire others to commit acts of peace.

“I think all companies not just tech companies, all companies should try to do good in the world because business is about service,” said Chade-Meng Tan, who is Google’s Jolly Good Fellow. “You make bread. We plant rice. We deliver services. It’s all about serving humanity.”

Photo by Joe Castro

Volunteers for the day with Rigoberta Menchú: PeaceJam, Hill and Knowlton Strategies, Google. Photo by Joe Castro

Google’s Mountain View campus used to be home to 13 pairs of burrowing owls, but in recent years the population has fallen to just 3 pairs. To help revive their natural habitat the volunteers cleared dead vegetation to enable high grasslands to grow, and created large piles of brush to attract rodents and insects.

Biologist Philip Higgins explained to volunteers that their efforts would also help conserve the Congdon Tarplant, an endemic yellow flower only found in the Bay Area.

Educating a Nobel Laureate about the burrowing owls. Photo by Joe Castro

Educating a Nobel Laureate about the burrowing owls. Photo by Joe Castro

Photo by Joe Castro

Volunteers. Photo by Joe Castro

Menchú, a Guatemalan Indian-rights activist, got stuck in with the efforts and told visiting media that her Mayan heritage gave her a deep respect for Mother Nature.

“I am Mayan,” said Menchu. “In my heritage, we the Mayan know very well that without taking care of the Earth we cannot prosper.”

Photo by Joe Castro

Rigoberta Mencú clearing shrubs. Photo by Joe Castro

Dawn Engle of PeaceJam with Fox News. Photo by Joe Castro

Dawn Engle of PeaceJam with Fox News. Photo by Joe Castro

After the morning’s work, she gave an impassioned and animated talk at Google’s main campus on her story, diversity and the importance of the One Billion Acts of Peace campaign.

Photo by Joe Castro

Photo by Joe Castro

Menchú was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. During the Guatemala’s Civil War her family was tortured for their opposition to the government. She spoke about how she witnessed many horrors including the torture and killing of her mother, father and brother.

She told a captive audience that even through all the pain and hate, she did not see herself as a victim – rather, she was given an opportunity to help spread peace.

Her message was that it is how you take advantage of the opportunities you are given that is important and everyone is capable of acts of peace, no matter how small. She encouraged all those attending to come together around a common cause to make an impact.

“I think it’s the small things that matter,” said Google employee Jay Castro. “Small things here and small things there. If all of us here can do one thing a day, then that leads to something much greater.”

An incredibly inspiring woman, Menchú reminded us all why the One Billion Acts of Peace campaign is so special, and how every small act of peace joins together to create the change.

Suzi is a mom of twins, and passionate about life, learning and travel. She also leads the social media and interactive technology practice at Blanc & Otus.


  • Dawn Engle
    Posted at 1:57 pm April 23, 2015
    Dawn Engle
    Reply Author

    This was such an incredible and amazing day!