viernes, 30 de abril de 2010

Environmental Issues In Our Own Backyard!

Although we all live in the colonia (neighborhood) San Anton, we are all so busy with daily life in Cuernavaca that it is not often when we take time to walk down the street and meet our neighbors or explore the ravines that make up our backyard. Last week the migration and globalization students had the opportunity to meet with two activists from the neighborhood who dedicate their freetime to cleaning up the ravines and educating the community about the importance of caring for the environment and being active participants in the maintenance of our physical world.

The panel of activists was put together by Professor Judy Shevelev as part of a joint effort with the program staff on the Earlham College study abroad program in Cuautla, Morelos, located an hour and a half from Cuernavaca. As a recent Earlham graduate and having studied abroad in Cuautla, the event was even more special for me as I got to reflect with the Earlham students about their experiences in Mexico and watch as the MG students were wonderful hosts and participants, actively engaged in the discussion generated by the panel. The event gave both groups of students the opportunity to spend time together as they learned more about the issues of water and trash collection systems that they have studied all semester long.

All in all, the panel proved to be very successful as students listened to the first hand accounts of those fighting for the restoration of clean rivers and the right to clean air and afterwords enjoyed each other´s company, taking the time to share stories, eat snacks and even participate in an impromptu game of fútbol! Hopefully, as they journey home in the coming month, the students will be able to take what they´ve learned from the event and implement it their own communities.

Photo: Students getting to know each other before the panel begins

jueves, 29 de abril de 2010

Gender Roles and Base Christian Communities

By Andy Chadwick,

Augsburg College

These past few weeks, the Migration and Globalization students have really settled in with their Mexican families. It has been an easy transition integrating into a Mexican family; they have been exceedingly welcoming and accommodating. There is so much to learn but at the same time we also have a lot in common with our families. It has been fascinating hearing the stories of our families, especially when they can relate to topics we are studying in class. It has been especially interesting to start to understand gender roles within Mexico and to have a dialogue with our families to hear their personal stories and philosophies related to this subject.

In addition to becoming settled in with our families, we, as well as the Social Work students, had the opportunity to hear two amazing women tell their personal stories regarding gender roles. These speakers put a face to the issues that we have previously learned about, regarding gender roles, from Irene Ortiz and others. They talked about the hardships they have faced in their lives due to unfair gender roles and expectations. They were treated horribly by their husbands and were not even allowed to leave the house most of the time. They each found their way to Base Christian Communities, (BCC´s) which changed their lives. They were taught to read and this allowed them to read the Bible for themselves. By studying the Bible, they realized that they shouldn't be treated this way, God created them equal to men. BCC´s, like the one these women are a part of, are autonomous religious groups based in liberation theology. Liberation theology is the idea that God is on the side of the poor and marginalized of the world. BCC´s, coupled with the influence of liberation theology, focus on material conditions and issues of class.

Our speakers opened my eyes to the hardships that women often face to achieve equality. They also showed me that there is hope for equality among the genders, that there is a way of achieving it through liberation theology and BCC´s. I kept asking myself questions like: how has being a male unfairly given me privilege or benefited me in my life to this point? How has my un-acknowledgment of this privilege furthered unfair gender roles and expectations? What can I do in the future to support women's rights without over-stepping my bounds as a male? These speakers were an eye-opening experience for all of us and this experience, I think, changed us for the better.

miércoles, 14 de abril de 2010

¡Social Movements: Tierra, Libertad, y Jugo Para Todos!

By Katy Jensen,

Emory University

This week was an exciting week for the MG students at CEMAL! Thursday, we packed our bags for a weekend travel-seminar. Destination: Mexico City and San Salvador de Atenco.

During our time in Mexico City, we had the unique opportunity to tour the Pascual factory, maker of the popular Mexican juice drink Boing! There, we learned about the workers who came together in solidarity to form this cooperative that is proud to be 100% Mexican-owned. Pascual is an important Mexican company because not only did the workers form it, but also because it supports other local social movements and co-ops. For me it was fascinating to hear about how workers came together to buy up the company and to have the ultimate say-so in how it is run. After hearing about the history, we got to tour the factory and watched as the juice was being made and bottled. It was such a sight to see as juice boxes whizzed by on the assembly lines.

Friday night and all day Saturday (April 9-10) we spent in San Salvador Atenco learning about the local solidarity movement against the government trying to seize local land to build an airport. In class, we watched a movie about the fight and imprisonment of the people of Atenco in 2006 during the struggle to protect their land. For me, it was interesting to see the real-life repercussions of this event that still endure almost four years later. In Atenco, we listened to the daily challenges that people face there as their family members and friends remain imprisoned.

Saturday, we had a chance to visit the actual fields on which the government wanted to build the airport on, and the Atenco land board explained that today the fight to protect the land continues. We noticed that while we were visiting the campo there were surveyors eager to acquire the land for a new project under the auspices of CONAGUA. Although this new project promises to make good use of the land, Atenco citizens are on edge, because this is similar to how the government went about acquiring land for their the airport project, under false pretenses. The people of Atenco will not back down in the fight to protect their land; they believe that “la lucha sigue!

All in all, this was a very didactic week. Through our field experience, we got to apply what we learned in class and make connection to real-life events. Ultimately, we learned the value of standing up for what you believe in, in order to preserve your identity, history, and autonomy. The people we encountered at both the Pascual factory and the city of Atenco were willing to do whatever it took to fight for their freedom. For the juice company, this meant group autonomy, thus working as a cooperative. Similarly, the people of Atenco continue their fight to protect their land and liberate their compañeros from prison. The spirit and unyielding strength of the people in Atenco was truly inspiring. Although four years have passed, they still have hope for the future.

We have a lot to learn about the power of perseverance and solidarity, especially from the people of Atenco. When we join together, anything is possible. Although we may continue to struggle alone, together we are victorious.

Looking back on this week, I wonder: What is it that I would fight for? What do I value most in life? Is there anything that I would stop at nothing to defend? These thoughts pervade my mind as I recall the stories from Atenco and the Pascual factory. What matters most in life? What are my priorities? It is interesting to put these things in perspective and apply these experiences to my own life.

Photos: At top, students pose with Profesor Judy Shevelev outside of the BOING! plant; at left, students pose in the campo in Atenco.