Saturday, September 10, 2011
2 Septiembre, 2011
Happy first of September! I have one more day at the convent in Cuernavaca and then the real work begins here. After meeting my host family and seeing the two sites I'll be working in, I'm excited but also I know there's a lot of learning to do. The two work sites, in Cuentepec and Coateltelco, welcomed our group of volunteers with a HUGE welcome. It was intimidating to have entire communities welcome me into a position where I already know I will not be giving as much as I will be receiving the local knowledge and kindness. What I thought would be a concise tour of the two work placements in each community ended up being a day long, snail-paced meal basically. We spent most of the time at two homes, each of which seem to be the headquarters of basically a community meeting area (I use the term community loosely because it's more like an informal fiesta and work-related topics may or may not pop up in conversation). There were tons of flies and mosquitoes that gave me bites which covered my feet and that worries me a little for the comfort of my work. That being said, these women are already some of the most amazing people I've ever met. They lead community clean-up days where 100 women more or less literally sweep the streets; they teach each other how to make stoves that are easier or more efficient to use; they organize tours of the local school where organic composting and other amazing projects about nutrition and sustainability are happening. The school tour, however, felt really weird because we visitors were being video taped the entire time. Talk about being an outsider. I am grateful that I know have some idea of what it feels like to be a minority. One woman, basically the 85 year old head honcho of one town, said that like 50 years ago she stopped the president of Mexico and made him come visit her small town (by pulling him into a taxi), because she was so upset that her mayor was portraying their pueblo as being fine and everything in order. I have found my grandma, Mexican form. We have been visiting other volunteers' sites every day. This has entailed visiting an organic farm owned by an expat, a center where people ages 10-46 with down's syndrome go, multiple centers for women's domestic and reproductive rights, an AIDS activism program, and retirement communities – just to name a few. It is so inspirational to witness what wonderful work is being done here in Mexico with regard to human rights and community support, especially in a society where it has been made clear to us (by a university professor who came to talk to us one day) that expression of opinions is different than where I am from.