Monday, May 4, 2009

WEEK 13: At a Grass Roots Level: One of the last 3 weeks in Cuernavaca

This week has been quite a whirlwind. It was our first week back in the house we originally lived in. The group has been here for three months now, and I feel that this week has been one of the best learning weeks we have had so far. We were able to go to one of our instructor's friend's house and hear about activism from a grass roots level.

Everyone back to our regular class room in Casa Verde where we are in our Mexican Context course.

This woman (let's call here Lora) is part of a Christian community movement called the Base Christian Communities. These are religious groups that encourage social activism within the community. Lora is a Catholic woman that is a supporter of women's rights. When Lora was talking about her personal beliefs clashing with the hierarchy within the Catholic Church, one of the students asked, "So why do you continue to be part of the Catholic Church Anita talking to us about the EZLN groups and de-briefing our visit with her friend “Lora.” when your spiritual leaders won't even support you?" Lora answered very eloquently and calmly saying, "The church is like your sick mother. When your mother is sick you don't just turn your back on her, you stay and take care of her until she is better. This is just like the church." This really hit home with me and I will remember that quote from her forever. I think many of the other students will too.

The rest of the week we had classes and our instructor Antonio taught us more in depth about the Zapatista Army of National Liberation known as the EZLN. The group was started within the indigenous community of Chiapas where the Zapatista uprising occurred -----Antonio’s presentation on the EZLN Zapatista Movement.
on January 1st 1994. The Zapatista uprising was in response to years of oppression and unheard voices from the indigenous and poor communities. The Zapatistas planned it on January 1st to coincide with the start of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) in order to protest having their rights taken away by the hierarchy of the government. On this day and for the next twelve days thereafter, shots were fired, government officials were taken hostage, and people were killed. The work that they have done, before and after January 1st , has given the indigenous people a voice, but as for actually gaining many rights…the fight is still continuing and I hope that they can find the strength to continue this never-ending battle.

A doll figure of “Marcos”-- one of the main leaders of the EZLN-- that Antonio showed us during his presentation on the Zapatista’s.

This week in our student led class session, we put our frustrations down on paper airplanes and then threw them off of the roof as a symbol of "letting go of our frustrations." At times, I wish it were that easy for the marginalized and oppressed people of Mexico to rid their lives of their frustrations and be able to rest and know that the struggle is over--until then, I just want to thank the people of Mexico and the country itself for teaching me so much during my time here. There will always be a place in my heart for this country and I hope to learn even more in the last few weeks I will spend here.

Some of the Social Work students with their “frustration” paper airplanes before sending them off of the roof!

--By Katelyn Macaulay

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