Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mexican social workers and a colorful trip!

This week the Social Work students met with Araceli Vallejo, who works in the Procuraduria de la Defensa del Menor y Familia  (The Office for the Protection of Children and Families) in Morelos, which is a part of the DIF – Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (National System for Integral Family Development), which is the Mexican public institution of social assistance.
I really enjoyed hearing about similarities and differences in child services programs between Mexico and the United States. For example, we learned about programs put in place here in Morelos for children who cannot remain in their homes. For example, in Morelos, if children need to be placed outside of their home, depending on their age they either live in a center for ages 0-11years and 11 months, or another center for the ages 12-17 and 11 months. She also described a piece of the adoption process. When assessing if a couple is a suitable for adopting a child, the Social Worker will interview both the husband and wife’s entire extended family as well as the neighbors.

I think this process demonstrates some of the differences in cultural values between Mexico and the United States, particularly the value placed on extended family. What do you think about this? How would you react in the United States if in the adoption process all your extended family and neighbors were contacted? Do you see a cultural difference there?

We also had an opportunity for adventure last week! Last Saturday we had an optional excursion to the Butterfly Sanctuary in Temascaltepec in the state of Mexico to see the mariposas monarcas. A few of us rode horses up the mountain to see the butterflies that clung to the trees in the forest and flew above the treetops. Our group had a picture-taking frenzy – we couldn’t resist posing with the butterflies!

Early the next morning we explored Toluca and visited the Cosmovitral, a stained glass mural and botanical gardens. The murals were colorful and beautiful especially with the morning sun. The sun shining through the stained glass had a great effect on then plants – they looked spray-painted!

After our tour around the Cosmovitral, we drove to the Nevado de Toluca, a stratovolcano near Toluca. Once we climbed to the top we had an awesome view of two crater lakes, the Lago del Sol and Lago de la Luna. For the first time this semester we had to bundle up with scarves and jackets!

CGE Mexico students at the Nevado de Toluca

Week 6 was fantastic and I can’t wait for more!

-- Anneliese Dion-Kindem


  1. Thanks so much for sharing the color and beauty of Mexico, Anneliese. I also enjoyed reading about child welfare and family services in Mexico today. It looks like there still is not a well-developed system of foster care, perhaps, as your questions suggest, because of the value of "la familia" and nurturing of family ties. Yet children whose families are not able to care for them end up in institutional care? It's difficult for institutions with the usual changes in staffing, etc., to provide the kind of care kids need to thrive. I'm interested to know more about the services and programs that work with families in supporting their caring for kids in their own homes and neighborhoods.


  2. Hello Anneliese! My name is Youna Lor, I am a sophomore in the SWK program and i am also interested in studying abroad next spring! After Looking at the amazing pictures and reading through your descriptions, I am stunned by how much you guys have learned in such a short time! I also found the adoption process in Morelos to be extremely fascinating; both the husband and wife's extended families are interviewed throughout the process. That is indeed something different compared to the adoption process in the United States. In response to your question: How would we react to this process? In my opinion, I wouldn't mind much because my family has no record of criminal background. But i would also be completely turned off by the idea due to the fact that my extended family has no business in the application process. Besides, I would be the only one to take care of the child so i should be the only one to get interviewed. On the other hand, I am thankful that other countries have support systems available within their community! Thank you for sharing and i look forward to all the neat comments!


  3. I think its incredibly fascinating the emphasis that Mexico's adoption services place on the extended family. I wonder if this results in better outcomes for children placed into families with good, supportive extended family members? It would be interesting to compare Mexican children's opinions and feelings about the adoption process with American children who have also been adopted. I am also curious about the centers the children who are waiting to be adopted live in. And am curious about the outcomes it has for these children. It sounds like the CGE program is fun, thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. This program is such an awesome experience and I wish that everybody was able to attend a trip like this. You learn something new everyday and take away a life lesson! Great pictures Anneliese!

  5. Amazing pictures! What a great place to learn about being responsible steward and global citizen!

  6. Your pictures are so beautiful! It's great to hear that you are learning about similarities and differences of social work in a different country. It makes me want to get out and discover the life and knowledge in social work just like you all. Continue your journey, stay safe, and have fun! Look forward to hearing more from you all!


  7. Awesome pictures Anneliese! The garden we went to in Toluca was so beautiful and such a neat experience. Also, walking up that mountain was so tiring but definitely worth the view! Thanks for sharing such a great post and pictures!

  8. Amazing experiance going to Nevado de Toluca. Geology is one of my facinations. Did you find out how high it is? Strato volcanos are typicly supper high and im curious how difficult it was to get to the crater. Im gunna go look it up on Google maps. It would be really cool to see where my you guys are traveling.

    Those gardens are so enchanting! I love how the stained glass just lights up the greenhouse. I want to start my garden here in MN but the ground only just thawed! It is apperantly the year spring forgot. You are fortunate to be in such a warm place.

  9. I like that you spoke on the importance of interviewing the entire extended family of both adoptive parents. In my family specifically, it is very important for everyone to know what is going on with each member so they can feel good about life.