Maria Full of Grace introduces its viewers to the life of 17 year old Maria Alvarez, an ambitious and somewhat rebellious, pregnant teen of rural Colombia who works on a flower plantation to help support her family.
With no intentions of marrying the father of her unborn child, and unable to endure the conditions of plantation work, Maria becomes desperate to earn money, and makes a life-changing decision.
In search of work, Maria connects with a friend who presents her with an opportunity to earn considerable money by trafficking illegal drugs out of Colombia, and into the US.
Maria agrees, and accepts her first mission as “drug mule”
On her first and last trek as drug mule on route to New York, Maria recognizes that she is not alone in the world of female drug trafficking, and while in New York she is confronted with the horrors of the lifestyle.
For Maria, resilience and redemption are all that remain in her journey towards motherhood, and the prospect of a new life filled with goals and future success.
I would definitely recommend this movie to youth development professionals. Although it is a foreign film with English subtitles, the movie covers themes that include risky youth behaviors, family responsibility vs. personal decision-making, and resilience; all of which parallel some of the experiences of youth in the US. I think these qualities make this movie an effective curriculum enhancement.
In terms of global youth development, I also found it interesting that there was no mention, or connection between Maria and school. Instead,there was a greater emphasis placed on working, which probably symbolizes the limited educational opportunities for youth of rural LDC’s.
References Sesin, C.(2004, May 25). Caring for ‘drug mules’ who perish on the job: Colombian aids forgotten victims. Retrieved May 23, 2011, from MSNBC Website: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5050399/ns/us_news/ t/caring-drug-mules-who-perish-job/ United States Agency for International Development. (2005,January 14). USAID budget report: Columbia. Retrieved from http://www.usaid.gov/ policy/budget/cbj2005/lac/co.html