St. Catherine University
During week five there was a lot of preparation for the up and coming rural home stay in Amatlan. Earlier in the program we had visited Amatlan for a day, and thus began our knowledge of this community and town, but truly had not yet had the opportunity to truly expose ourselves to more of the rural lifestyle and form bonds and attachments to those in the community. We met and discussed our hopes and fears for the home stay as well as the different cultural norms which we should try to embrace and follow as a sign of respect while in the rural community of Amatlan. The students shared many commonalities in our hopes and fears but also had differences. Due to the fact that we are all people from different walks of lives, different states and communities and have different relationships with nature and more rural lifestyles, there were varying levels of fears and excitement due to this factor. Many showed excitement to be able to do more in the outdoors, others were afraid to be out of touch with their technological sides and perhaps be “roughing” it a little more and leaving behind the “luxuries” or a more industrialized lifestyle. I put these in quotations because the luxuries in life are very objective and differ from person to person, and what one person may view as a necessity may be someone else’s luxury or even a useless undesired object or item.
Everyone was hopeful to be involved with the community, to learn more about their lifestyles, and to form some bonds with their families and be using their Spanish. Another fear was the use of Spanish and the difficulty and awkwardness it could potentially create as well as the anticipation of what we would be eating.
Throughout our classes, we discussed micro aggressions, and the ways in which racism can occur under the radar, without even being aware ourselves. This topic is particularly interesting because it stresses us to be aware and conscious of our own prejudices which we do not always like to admit that we have, although we all possess them. As social workers it is important to be aware of these prejudices so that we do not conduct ourselves with micro-aggressions or in a prejudiced way.
We must always be challenging our thought patterns and the ways in which we view the world and analyzing the reasons which we may feel such a way. This will help us be able to see from other people’s perspectives as well. These topics were important to address before our home stay because it helped us to be more aware of our thoughts and perspectives before going to our rural homestay, and allowed us to reflect on how those changed once we returned. It also helped us to be more “culturally competent” and conduct ourselves in a respectful manner while we were in the town, visiting different sites and living with families within the community.
I personally didn’t have many fears before the rural home stay due to the fact that I am comfortable in this environment. Something that normally helps me feel more comforted when I am feeling stressed or anxious is keep in mind that the experience of being abroad and all of its components, is something that happens once in a lifetime. Rather than thinking about what one doesn’t have, focusing on what it is that one does have is a much healthier way to live. Time passes faster than one can imagine and is ungraspable, take advantage of each moment of breath, and be happy for the air that is borrowed. Give back to the earth appreciation, love, and life; what it gives to you.
So with this experience I began to think what are the necessities in your life? How does one remain respectful and competent in a culture foreign to one’s own as well as embrace their fears in order to experience the richness of learning from other people’s experiences and culture?