Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My family that I never knew existed

By Lorreal Edwards

Homestay. That word scared me before this trip. It is mandatory that students do both a rural homestay for four days, and an urban homestay for a minimum of four weeks. I will be the first to admit that I could not fathom doing such a thing. However, I knew this had to be done. I had to constantly remind myself that I came to Mexico to learn Spanish, and to travel for the first time, but most of all I needed to get outside of my comfort zone.

The rural homestay, in the beautiful town of Amatlan, was enjoyable, but difficult. At that time, I had a wee bit of Spanish, two weeks to be exact. Thus, there was a language barrier, which meant a lack of ability to communicate, and a slight awkwardness with my host family. Nevertheless, I do believe that it was a steppingstone to prepare me for my urban homestay.
I did not know what to expect. I wondered if it would be the same as my stay in Amatlan. I wondered if I could bare living with strangers for four whole weeks. I soon found out they were not strangers. They were something like a long lost family.

I entered a home of two, a mother named Martha, and son named Alan. I instantly felt welcomed, and loved. Throughout my stay, we went to numerous birthday parties and many cool places here in Cuernavaca. Some include, Teopanzolco, Ecológica parque de Chapultepec, La Barranca, Jardín Borda, El Castillito, Plaza Cuernavaca, and we even went to Six Flags. I recommend all the buetiful places that we went to in Cuernavaca. Although, it was not the places that made it all so special, it was simply the quality time.

I have been living own my own my entire college career (minus on campus roommates). My family moved to Florida when I was a freshman. Before coming to México, I had not been in real a family setting in almost three years. It felt so foreign, yet so beautiful. I learned so much in my urban homestay. The initial uncomfort simply came from our language barrier, but my mom was always supportive, and we always figured out a way to communicate. She helped me with my spanish homework, and always ha patience when I didn't quite know what I wanted to say. This meant pulling out a dictionary, or using gestures and actions to explain myself.

I understand that not everyone had the same experience that I had. I feel very blessed to have been placed with this family. Not once did I ever feel unwelcomed, or overbearing. I am greatful that I got to be in a real family setting. It has made me value my family more, and it has also showed me how one can love a complete stranger uncontionally. I would not trade this experience for the world. I can honestly say; I have family in Cuernavaca, Mexico!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Own Adventure

By Connor Choban

Although the majority of our blog posts involve things that our group did as a whole, I personally had the privilege of traveling to the city of Toluca, in the State of México, with my host mother. Yet, before we could arrive in Toluca, we had to undergo an arduous journey. We took a bus from Cuernavaca, at a very confusing terminal. My mom had warned me that it was possible that we would be separated, but we were lucky and managed to find two seats next to each other. Then the bus took us along a road through the mountains of México. The changes in elevation, and all of the curves made me sick to my stomach. Frequently, I would look out the window and see steep cliffs below the road, yet I did have some confidence in the driver and I wasn’t afraid.

Finally, we arrived in Toluca. My mom and I traveled to her cousin’s empeño, a type of store where one loans out products. We met up with her cousin, and then traveled to her home in the neighboring town of Capultitlan. There we spent the rest of the day socializing with the family, and made plans for the following day.

The next day, after we had desayuno, we went to Toluca’s Zocalo, the main plaza. My mom and I visited the Cosmovitral, a giant botanical garden with beautiful stained glass designs on the long windows, and plants from all over the country. We wandered through the winding paths, exploring the diversity of organisms in the garden.

When we left, we reunited with some of the family members and crossed the Zocalo. After admiring the main plaza of Toluca, we crossed the street to a smaller plaza, which had the Governor’s palace and the House of the Senate of the state of México. After, we wandered through a nearby shopping mall, and then it was time for us to catch the bus back to Cuernavaca.

The Cosmovitral.

A section of the gorgeous stained glass windows.

The main Zocalo of Toluca.

The Government Plaza.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Mexico International Resident Assistant Position

The Center for Global Education at Augsburg College – Mexico is hiring for an International Resident Assistant/Intern.  The position promotes a healthy living/learning environment for semester students and participants in short-term educational seminars, as well assists in the operation of all educational programs at the Augsburg College study center in Cuernavaca, Mexico.  The application deadline is Dec. 1 with a starting date on or near January 1, 2015. For a more detailed description and application form, please visit:  http://www.augsburg.edu/global/about/careers/

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On Challenge and Gratefulness

By Rachel Picard


“The salvation of man is through love and in love.” Viktor Frankl

There are times here in Mexico when I struggle. I am past the point of trying to convince others (and myself) that life abroad is constantly enjoyable and easy and never really a challenge. For me, living and studying in Mexico has been one of the greatest challenges of my life thus far, but one that I am so grateful for as it is opening my mind and heart and forcing me to question and acknowledge things I had never needed to confront before. The newest and biggest struggle – the color of my skin. I constantly struggle with the privileges that the color of my skin has granted me and so harshly denied to others. I have never been in a place where I am so clearly the minority, and I have never had to come to terms that in many places in the world, white skin is a representation of ancient and continuing violence as well as extreme social privilege. Although I did not request my race, the actions of people that came before me have great bearing on the way I am viewed here and force me to reexamine my own actions in this new community. Learning about the legacy of the Spanish Conquest and the political relations between my home country and Mexico has forced me to take a greater responsibility for the choices I make on a daily basis. So, all in all, I consider this struggle an opportunity for me to grow as a human being and to form connections with people I would not have otherwise known.

Some days, I find myself wishing that I didn’t have to hear about so much violence and aggression, about such long-lasting intolerance and dominating misogyny. But, even with challenging coursework and eye-opening excursions, the one thing that I hope to never lose sight of is how fortunate I am to be here, learning about things that were never taught to me in school. I never knew about the massacres of indigenous people, or the US-backed death squads in El Salvador, or political relations between the United States and Mexico. Even though it never becomes any easier, at all, to learn about the violent human-rights abuses that have occurred and continue to plague Latin America, I find strength through the experiences of others and hope for a more tolerant future.

Other frustrations are less difficult but nonetheless a daily challenge. There are days when I can’t understand a word in Spanish that I understood the day before, and other times when I come across words that are said to me every single day that I just can’t seem to remember. At some meals I have a thousand things to tell my Mexican grandmother, and at other meals I would rather crawl into bed and be alone for hours. Thankfully, the support system I have here is truly amazing. The staff at the house has never failed to say hello when they see me, my professors go above and beyond to make sure that I am healthy and happy and learning well, and the other students share in all the adventures. I have also been strengthened and blessed by the times when we have heard the stories of men and women here in Mexico who are passionately working for justice. There have been many times when, while listening to someone’s story, I have been overwhelmed by the strength they have displayed and I am re-motivated to join in their fight for a just society. In a Christian Base Community that we visited, the women told us that they share stories of both struggle and joy with one another because it is a way to strengthen the community individually and as a group. Participating in talks and gatherings like these have shown me that this is true.

Through all of these things, from dealing with the color of my skin to some difficulties learning Spanish, I am so incredibly grateful for my experiences living in Central America and the endless opportunities I have been given to learn and change and grow. I have given myself a daily challenge in Mexico, a challenge to find beauty in the little things. First, because I am so fortunate and truly grateful to be here, and this is a small way of giving back. And second, because I want to remind myself every single day how amazing it is to be a part of a community in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico; a place I did not even know existed six months ago.  


I will admit, when I first arrived in Cuernavaca I was extremely taken aback by the extremely narrow streets clogged with cars and the garbage filling the streets in the morning. The smells of this new city coming from the ravines during the afternoon heat were entirely different from New York’s smells, and everywhere I walked it seemed congested with people or animals or cars. When these differences begin to overwhelm me or I miss home or I lose touch with my reality here because I am so focused on returning home, I remind myself of the challenge I have given myself. I wanted to share some of my favorite moments where I have been surrounded by beauty and felt overwhelmingly grateful to be here in Mexico. Hope you enjoy!


 Sunrise outside my bedroom window in Cuernavaca


Storm clouds outside my bedroom window in Cuernavaca

Young girl in Puebla so excited by the bubbles

Motorcycle and its reflection in the water on a street in Taxco