|Hierve el Agua, natural pools outside of Oaxaca|
After a year here, I am about to say goodbye to CGE Mexico and to Cuernavaca. As in any time of transition, I’m feeling a lot of different emotions. I am excited to see my family again, start a new job in the U.S., and eat some of my favorite foods again, but I will also miss my new favorite foods here and, more importantly, all of the wonderful people I have met and worked with here. From the moment I arrived at CGE a year ago, I felt very welcome. I have enjoyed getting to know the staff and their families, and have been invited to countless birthday parties and other festivities. I have also made some great friends here and have had the opportunity to attend a quinceañera, swim in a natural mineral pool on a mountainside, bike around Mexico City, participate in a Temazcal (a traditional sweat lodge), see two different ballet folklórico performances…I could go on and on about all of the great new experiences I have had here and all that I have learned! By the numbers, I’ve visited five pyramids (and climbed up a mountain to the Tepozteco pyramid four different times), worked with three semester groups and five short-term travel seminars (in addition to meeting the Augsburg president and provost and several visiting professors), translated for over 40 talks, attended probably hundreds of Zumba classes at the great gym down the street, and eaten hundreds of freshly made, piping hot corn tortillas.
|Biking with students and staff outside Mexico City|
|Spring 2014 students and staff at the first-ever staff appreciation dinner|
|Celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with Fall 2013 students|
Before coming here, I had studied in Ecuador and lived in Spain, but my knowledge of Latin America did not include much of Mexico. As a Spanish major in college, I had studied Latin American literature and culture in a broad sense, but I knew more about South American than Central America and Mexico. I had lived in New Mexico for a year and worked with Mexican immigrants, but moving to Mexico and working at CGE has really helped me understand more about Mexico and about my experiences on the border. I have benefited so much from hearing (and translating for) guest speakers on a wide range of topics, from religious movements that have arisen from liberation theology to political activism to immigration stories. Just like our students, I have benefited from CGE’s experiential education model. I have heard directly from people who have been migrant workers in the U.S., and I have visited a migrant shelter in Mexico City that houses many migrants from Guatemala and Honduras. I have stayed with a spunky older woman in the countryside who still cooks over a fire in her small cookhouse. I have visited a local maquiladora that manufactures swimsuits and ships them to the U.S. to be sold. I have learned and experienced so much, and just as I have learned how to translate what our guest speakers have to say from Spanish to English, I will have to think carefully about how to translate my experiences here into terms that my friends and family at home can understand and appreciate. Fortunately, my sister spent the summer in Cuernavaca, and my family spent a week here this summer, so they were able to see where I live and work and meet some of my friends.
|with my family in the nearby town of Tepoztlan|
I am also pleased to pass on the baton to our new intern, Dustin. A recent graduate of Siena College in New York, Dustin spent a semester in Central America with CGE and also studied for a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have enjoyed getting to know him and helping to train him, and I am excited for him and know that he will do a great job!
Gracias, CEMAL! Gracias, México! It’s been great!
-Grace Lundergan, International Residential