We arrived in Cholula after a full day wandering through the historic center of Mexico City. On our first morning, we visited with Virgilio and Norma Pineda at the Instituto Educativo para Personas Ceguera y Debilidad Visual (Educational Institute for the Blind and Persons with Visual Disability). We enjoyed a tour of the center, learned a bit of Braille, and experienced first hand what it means to negotiate space, direction, and simple walking as blind persons.
Early in the afternoon, we began the two-night home stay program with a 20-minute drive to the town of San Jerónimo Tecuanipan. We visited two homes and community centers established to promote sustainable living:
- The “eco-dome” is a project sponsored by our host program, Enlaces Comunitarios Internacionales. We explored sustainable approaches to architectural design and initial experiments with permaculture.
- La Casita del Barro is a home built entirely on the principles and practices of sustainability. Owned and established by Ina Vanootehem and Manuel Palma, La Casita features a fully-functioning composting toilet initially built with the assistance of several Stuart Hall students during the Mexico immersion in 2011.
As students prepared to move into the homes of their host families, we paused to name our anxieties, hopes, and feelings. While many were wary of the inevitable challenges that come with living in a home not one’s own, the language and cultural barriers, we entered the experience in a spirit of openness.
Among our hosts, students and faculty were welcomed with gracious hospitality, delicious meals, (halting) conversation, and some work. The best rooms were prepared for our use. Gradually, we settled into the strangeness of place, grateful for roof over our heads, nourishment, and kind welcome.
Our first evening in Tecuanipan ended with a hearty meal, some lightning, thunder, and a rain storm. Exhaustion left many with a good night’s rest. We awoke to the sounds of farm life, air freshened by the evening’s downpour, the snow-covered peaks of Popocatepetl, the warm nourishment of atole.
Mike Campos, SHHS Faculty