Monday, March 26, 2012

Luz y Libertad For All!

The Ladies from Luz y Libertad with students Itohan and Katelyn
Interculturalist, businesswoman, writer, singer, songwriter, composer, M. Bertha "Betty" Ramos spoke to us about the work she has done in her career. She spoke about intercultural discovery and how learning about and experiencing different cultures is also a gift in self discovery. She shared with us her experience of living in Canada versus living in Mexico, and how things she used to not enjoy in Mexico were things she began to miss while in Canada. She explained that, in experiencing different cultures, especially when living in another culture, we learn more about our own culture and are given an opportunity to see the world in a new way. Betty Ramos shared her experiences of working and living amongst different cultures and was a living example of how in learning more about ourselves as social workers  and as people in general, we can better provide services to those we work with.

Eating amazing vegetarian food at Luz y Libertad!
This week we also visited the Christian Base Community organization of Luz y Libertad here in Cuernavaca. The organization has been in action for 21 years involving programs such as self esteem courses for women experiencing domestic abuse, nutritional cooking classes incorporating wheat germ and soy, and an arts and crafts group. In everything the organization does, they strive to provide empowerment to those who participate in the programs, especially women. The self esteem course is aimed at providing the women a space to realize there can be more to their world than the cycle of abuse. The arts and crafts group is also an extension of this in which women are taught how to make things like bags in which they can sell to provide more income for themselves and to be less economically dependent on their husbands. The organization Luz y Libertad, and the leaders who spoke to us about the organization they started, like Betty Ramos are examples of the infectious effect of what happens when we live the change want to see in the world.

The Church at Luz y Libertad

"To change the world we must start by being the change we want to see." -Buddha

By Katelyn Stanoch

                                                                                   References                                                                                      .
Ramos, B, M. Interculturalist Discussion. 20 March 2012
Garcia, A.T, Chaives, A.M, Alvarado, M. V., Saldana, E.E, Luz y Libertad Organization excursión. 23 March, 2012.
Full names of ladies from Luz y Libertad: Teresa Andrade García, María Alma Chaives. Victoria Maria De Leon Alvarado, Eustorgia Estrada Saldana


  1. Stephanie VillarrealMarch 26, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Having had the chance of hearing both Betty Ramos and the organization, Luz y Libertad was very eye opening. Hearing Betty Ramos speak reminded me of myself and how at times I struggle with my identity. Her having been born in Mexico but also experience life in Canada changed her and let her appreciate both cultures. I grew up in the United States but have a father who is Mexican and a mother who is Puerto Rican. I am very proud of being all three but like Betty Ramos, I am also said to be too American and it hurts to hear this.
    Going to see the organization Luz y Libertad, was a great experience because as a social worker, I want to work with victims of domestic violence. through this organization, women are able to attend various workshops but also the value of being a women. I want to work with women in order to try and empower them and realize how important they are.

    1. Thanks, Katelyn and Stephnie! It's so encouraging to see that Luz y Libertad is still working, sustained, persistent, and nurturing over the years. Ms. Ramos' reflections on coming to know our own culture better as we see it from the vantage point of another land reminded me of the limited experiences I've had away from the U.S. (in Mexico and England); once in England, colleagues there teased those of us from the U.S. when we responded to a problem situation with an instantaneous spurt of solutions off the top of our heads: "You Americans, you think you can solve every problem!" Of course, we hadn't given enough thought to whether our solutions might fit in a different culture or might instead cause worse problems. And from England, this particular strength but also vulnerability in dominant U.S. culture became much more apparent than it was living at home.

      And this reminds me of the quotation from T.S. Eliot

      "...We shall not cease from exploration
      And the end of all our exploring
      Will be to arrive where we started
      And know the place for the first time."

      T. S. Eliot (1942) Little Gidding

      Hope all were safe during the earthquake!


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  3. Hi everyone in Mexico,

    I've been reading your sounds like you've been doing amazing work and experiencing social work in a completely new dimension.

    Luz y Libertad sounds like a phenomenal organization in helping women who have been abused. I find it amazing that everything we are trained to do as social workers can be used all around the world because so many societies have problems of abuse, hunger, etc. (unfortunately). I can envision that working with the women in Mexico has broadened your perspective of culture and caused more self-reflection about your own cultural values and beliefs. In our Diversity class with Nancy, I have experienced the same thing, and feel more connected to the students around me because of the diversity dialogues we have had. I bet that being in a whole different country and setting as allowed you all to gain a new, more well-rounded view on promoting the well-being of clients, and working with them through the context of their culture.

    Awesome work!

    Mariya, Junior

  4. First of all the pictures you put in this are great! I enjoyed looking at them.

    I like the idea of empowering women through different interests. I have never heard of helping women through arts and crafts but it seems interesting. It is intriguing to think about how different our views can change by looking at different cultures or even living in different cultures. I think it makes you appreciate what you had but also is a great learning experience about something you can change!

    This was a great piece, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your time!

    Mikaela Zierden

  5. Kateyln and Stephanie, I think your comments on Betty Ramos' talk were so interesting. Like Stephanie said, Betty really made it clear how painful it can sometimes be to belong to different cultures. Through these struggles, however, it seems that Ms. Ramos has learned so much about herself, the countries that she has lived in, and the world in general. Katelyn made an excellent point, that through this multicultural experience that we are all having currently, we will learn valuable things about ourselves that will allow us to be better social workers in the future. In some of our readings for class, the subject of "cultural competence" came up. One of the necessary qualities for culturally competent social workers was self knowledge. Living and studying in Mexico for the semester has certainly taught us so much about the culture here and about ourselves. It is my goal to take these lessons I have learned and try to use them to make a difference in the world.