Friday, May 18, 2012

Lund, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark

May 13th to May 18th I went to visit a friend Cecily from undergrad in Sweden. She is doing her Masters in Middle Eastern studies at Lund University and I thought its a short 7 hour flight from NYC to scandanavia and I should hope over and say here is documentation of a great short trip.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Adios Guadalajara

I am back in the Bay Area and already started missing speaking spanish, missing the family life style, the kids of CODENI, and the Mexican policy that anything goes. What I don't miss is the pollution, the crazy drivers, the lack of organization at CODENI in my field work, the lack of appreciation and respect at work, unreliable internet, not getting paid hah and always being challenged and having to explain myself for being American or having the "liberal" views I have. So it pretty much evens out. What I missed about CA was how easy it is to live in the culture and community you know and grew up in, making money, my family, being comfortable, having all my stuff in one place, my friends, my house, and the California mentality. What I didn't miss about CA and the US is the elitist mentality, excess of technology and wealth, spoiled little kids, politics (especially republican presidential debates hah), the tough job search, and crazy family drama. But all in all, I am happy to be back in CA after a couple of years of being gone. I am excited to be able to travel, work again and graduate from my masters degree on May 20th!! Though I do have to finish my thesis first....wish me luck!

Here are some final pics with friends in Tequila the week before I left. Man I am going to miss it....

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Conocer el Mundo" / To Know The World

What did you want to be as a little kid? Where did you want to travel? What did you want to learn?

These are three fundamental questions that have guided my entire life up until now and will continue to do so. Two experiences made me think of these questions and reflect on my own life privileges, experiences, and opportunities.

Last weekend on Saturday the 25th of Feb I went with my best friend Susy and Julie, who was visiting me from our program we are in at Brandeis, and we went to the town of Tequila about an hour outside Mexico. We did the tour of the Sauza distillery and the hacienda called La Quinta, made friends with the long time tequila Jimador (the person that cultivates the agave plant) and then went to the tequila university where chemists study and produce tequila. We met a family of tequila experts and one of the nine children was named Joliexte or something similar and called Jolie for short. Chatting with her, I immediately realized how smart this litte eight year old was. Yes, I am going to say it, she reminded me a lot of myself as a little girl- dark hair and eyes, tan, super friendly and sociable and sassy. I said well now you have two new friends who are from the United States and she responds "I have a lot of friends from all over". Taken aback I said oh that is great. Then after a couple hours with her family discussing the value of tequila, tastes, the complexities, we headed out. But before that I asked her, Jolie, Que quieres hacer cuando eres grande / What do you want to do when you are big? She said "Conocer el mundo" after thinking for a second she said it without hesitation. She really impacted me and I would say is on par with my favorite little 6 year old girl in CODENI with whom I have spent a lot of time.

Here Jolie is with Susy and Julie.

My second experience is going with susy this morning, monday at 8:40 (yes that is early for me) to get her passport. Susy is 29 and this was a new experience for her. In my 24 years I have had 3 passports, one stolen one, and the one I have now which is a replacement for the temporary one- a total of 5 that have so many stamps in them representing all the learning, experiencing, and fun I have lived. It also makes me realize my privilege and opportunity that my parents gave me, that I was born where I was born, and am so thankful for all I have. It is funny, when ever I go on a trip I review the essentials- underwear, contacts, address of where I am going, and my passport. When it was stolen in Lisbon in 2007 I felt as if nothing else could be taken from me. Susy is so happy to have it and hopefully soon she will be able to get a visa to come visit me!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Back to the Basics

This year, 2012, so far I have really been appreciating working with the kids here at CODENI (Colectivo Pro Derechos de la Ninez). The kids come into the office Monday through Thursday and greet all of us Mairos (between Maestro and friend) with a hand shake. After passing through the office they go to education, then workshops and then recreation making the rounds everyday doing homework, a human rights themed workshop then exercise. I usually support with education and the other day I taught a 9 year old how to read a clock. None of this digital stuff I tell ya. He asked me Maira what time is? and I said you tell me, he said I dont know how to read a watch and so I showed him the little hand and the big hand in spanish and he ended up telling me what time it was. Paco's mom Silvia just participated in two focus groups I had with about 6 mothers trying to understand and get more participation from the parents at CODENI in our programs. I have really enjoyed getting to know the mothers are well as they are so emotionally smart though most of them are abused physically or emotionally, they are so strong and really opened up in these groups.

Another great moment this week was with Patricio, the 4th brother of five of an indigenous Huicol family from the high mountains of Jalisco. Patricio, 6 years old, has been caught fighting with other kids, not paying attention and running around with his older brothers, but today he was great. He has three older brothers- Oscar, 14 and Reyes, 12 and Duilio, 8. So his mom was studying with the education coordinator for her high school degree and I took Patricio upstairs in education to the lecture room because I saw him floating around the house not doing anything and grabbed our bilingual english go fish and started playing with him. After explaining the rules and starting to play, he got so excited each time he saw a new picture of an animal with the letter attached. For example M for Mono (Monkey). The excitement on his face was amazing and just being able to have one on one time with a kid with four brothers who never has that time with his parents who work all the time- it was great and so rewarding.

My next two weeks of work- goal number one: spend as much time with the kids as I can!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Traditional Small Town Wedding

On Friday the 4th of February, my friend Olga's (in the green dress) cousin got married in Tonala, a district just outside GDL. It was so much fun line dancing, dancing to banda and seeing the traditions they have. It customary to pin peso bills to the bride's veil and the groom's suit to be able to dance with them, and supposedly that money goes to the honeymoon and they are like gifts. I drove in my friend Yadi's car and of course Susy led the bandwagon as always.

Mazamitla Jan 30th

For Susy's brothers' birthday, Ramon and Ismael, we went to the mountains about 115 kilometers from GDL to the mountains and had all sorts of adventures. Here is the documentation:

Friday, February 3, 2012