Mexico | Thursday, January 17, 2019 | Home Stays, Art Project, Santa María Tonantzintla

Jade: We’re in Tecuanipan, last night we stayed in our host family houses. We really were able to see what the concept of “simple living” is. There’s a difference between simple living and poverty. So far, I have learned how resilient the people of Mexico are. This morning, our family took us to pick corn with them. Going to corn fields is their version of going to Safeway. The way of living here is very different. I am glad I have had the opportunity to experience this, thus far.

Maddie: Last night we stayed with our host families. My host family shares a living area with their cousins, aunts, uncles and elder family members. I have learned so much within the first day of staying with my family. I realized that there is a very drastic difference simple living and poverty. I have a newfound feelings of gratitude for everything that I have. The way we all live compared to the people here is so incredibly different. Although the natives don’t have nearly as much as I do they are all so happy.

Jackie: Yesterday, we met our host families. They are just the nicest people ever and just want to make sure we are comfortable and happy. We also played a huge game of basketball, which was so fun. Today was our first day of work. We started the day with our host families, who are so incredibly hospitable and generous. Then, we walked to the Center and started working. I mixed all the compost and then gathered sticks for more compost. Even after just a few hours, I felt exhausted and dirty.

Yesterday made my rethink how I treat those who work so hard for me behind the scene. Today has made me respect farmers and all the hard work they do. Agriculture is the back bone of our society, but yet, it isn’t appreciated as it should be. I realized that I take for granted where my food comes from and how it is harvested. I will definitely be more conscious of where my food comes from and how much I waste.

Mexico | Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | Videos of Center Work

Here are some videos of the work we did at the Center for Enlaces Comunitarios Internacionales in Tecuanipan, Mexico.

Renato explains how insects can break down organic material into compost that is use for healthy plant growth…

Students take composted materials and sift them to produce the fine dirt needed to feed crops…

Students and teacher work together to thresh amaranth, a grain that is widely used in food…

Taking and spreading the dirt from composted materials…

Mexico | Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | Work at the Center

Amelia Abernethy: Today we woke up after our first night with our host families. It was such a great experience spending a night with a family and helping them with their daily routines. The families then walked us back to the center so we could begin working. We started with sifting manure so we could use it to fertilize the plants. We worked on cleaning up the plants, and removing all the weeds and dead stuff. We also harvesting the seeds of ameranto. Then we had a great lunch of homemade quesadillas and sandwiches.

Maddie: Today is our first work day. I woke up and ate the leftover dinner with my host family. After that we went to the fields and picked corn. We went back to the house and walked over to the community links center to do some more work. I have acknowledged how lucky I am to live the life I do. I think that this service trip is such an amazing experience and I will never take for granted the things my family does for me.

 

 

Mexico | Tuesday, January 15, 2019 | Tecuanipan

On Tuesday afternoon we arrived in Tecuanipan where the Center for Enlaces Comunitarios Internacionales is located. This Center serves the local people by teaching them sustainable farming practices, programs for children, art projects, and food/supplies support. Many volunteers pass through the Center each year building on the work of each other. Over the years the Center grew and continues to grow thanks to the support of many high schools and universities.

Since 2003, the Schools of the Sacred Heart San Francisco has partnered with Enlaces Comunitarios to cultivate a week-long immersion experience that encourages direct service— fostering thoughtful encounters, critical consciousness, and openness to  contexts of difference. Student and faculty participants devote time for home stays, labor, and conversation with local communities. By confronting one’s sense of foreign-ness, the experience deepens empathy and care for the weakest in and among us.”

Mexico | Tuesday, January 15, 2019 | School for the Blind

Today we visited the School for the Blind and met Virilio who spoke to us about the realities that face blind people and how we might become more sensitive to this issue. We were taught how to do braille and wrote our names in braille. Then we experienced, just for a bit, what it is to be blind by covering our eyes with a mask and walking with a stick. The student reflections were impressive and enlightening. This school is unique and serves an often secluded people.

Elise writes: Today is the first full day in Cholula. We spent the morning visiting a school for the blind and learning about what it is like to have to fully rely on your other senses. A man named Virgilio spoke with our group about his experience as a blind person and how important it is for people to be educated correctly on what it’s like to be blind. He helped me understand that so much of our society relies on visual things such as social media which blind people do not have the opportunity to experience.  After an activity that involved people having to cover their eyes and walk using sticks for the blind we were all able to see how difficult it is to put all of your trust on your other senses. Ultimately from this experience we have all learned that it is in many ways more important to look within yourself and find yourself then it is to see the superficial surface with your eyes.

 

Tori and Jade speak about their experiences at the School of the Blind…

 

Mexico | Monday, January 14, 2019

Today, before we departed Mexico City, we visited our Sacred Heart school – Colegio Sagrado Corazón. There Claudia greeted us and gave us an amazing tour of the school. We interacted with primary and secondary students, visited classrooms, the newly renovated chapel, mediated in the Meditation Center, had lunch with the students there, and then bought some Sacred Heart jackets and sweatpants. It was an amazing and generous experience of the Sacred Heart. One student later reflected how only in a Sacred Heart school could she meet students from Mexico and South Korea. There were two exchange students from South Korea.

We then traveled two hours south to arrive at our place of service – Tecuanipan. There, Enlaces Comunitarios established the Center – an sustainable and ecological farm for teaching and growing crops. The Duchesne students are staying at the Center while the San Francisco students went to Cholula where Enlaces Comunitarios has their main house.

Entry Points & Interventions.

Our visit to the Colegio illuminated deep connections that bind our (now obviously) international community of learners, teachers, and ministers. Common words—Mater, congé, espacio, among others—offered familiar entry points for renewed encounters between Mexico and the United States, between los Americano/as and our Korean exchange students. Mindful of the privilege of our community in the Colegio, we reflected on the privilege of our own contexts. What does it mean, truly, for children of the Sacred Heart to take account of our agency, power, and responsibility for others? How does this invite us to divest selves of some power—to “step back”—so that others might step up?

We arrived at Tecuanipan heralded by majestic sunset views of Popocateptl. Blending into the gentle landscape, the Center orients us towards the mountains and fields, an enduring reminder of an ancient rhythm, varying textures and spaces, allowing our bodies to acclimate to the earth. Submitting to an organic engagement with time and space (both often beyond our control) we began to reconsider who/how we stand alongside another. The world intervenes into our mundane expectations. But in ways that open us also to magis, the possible.

—M. Campos