What an incredible week it has been! Our group has had the opportunity to experience a rural home stay in the indigenous town of Amatlán. There we met amazing people, experienced traditions and different lifestyles with our host families, and embarked on an adventure of fabulous food, beautiful sights, and memorable ceremonies and speakers. This week was filled with visits to a government agency, elementary and high school, medical center, and speakers ranging from recipients of government programs to natural healers to documented and undocumented immigrants. We went on excursions and listened to speakers that helped us not only to better understand Mexico and its many cultures, but also to immerse ourselves in these differences by living with a rural family in the community.
The first day that we arrived in Amatlán we were able to partake in an indigenous ceremony at the foot of the mountains that surrounded us. This was lead by Nacho, a spiritual leader in the community, who taught us about the traditions of his ancestors like listening to nature and speaking of peace. It was a beautiful experience and so wonderful to be able to learn more about the culture in Amatlán.
|At the base of the mountains in Amatlan|
Another opportunity that we had was speaking with Laura*, who is a natural healer in the community of Amatlán. She comes from a family of generations of natural healers, and she learned from her grandmother about what plants were medicinal and how to respect Mother Nature. I found it neat to see the similarity in her culture compared to mine how traditions and beliefs are passed down from generation to generation. She spoke of the indigenous cosmovision, or worldview, which emphasizes interconnectedness between human beings and nature. In her culture, there is great respect for nature and thanks is given when using plants for medicinal or food purposes.
Laura also spoke of how corn is a very sacred plant and that they celebrate and give thanks throughout the entire process including; picking seeds to plant, planting, taking care as it grows, and collecting the corn again. This is such a vital part of their culture and it was wonderful being able to hear about their traditions and their way of viewing the world. It was really interesting for me to notice the differences in the U.S. dominant culture regarding nature and the sacredness of corn. In the U.S. it seems that corn and other plants are looked at with dollar signs and not so much the love and respect that people in Amatlán give to nature.
|CGE Mexico students (and a favorite dog) at a group bonfire and reflection|
Overall, this week was an incredible learning experience and I had such a great time meeting new people, learning about a new culture, and discovering and embracing the similarities and differences that I shared with the community and my host family. I will remember this week forever!
-- Rebecca Collins
*Name changed for privacy purposes.