Monday, May 6, 2013

Learning and Living with Mexican Social Workers

A couple of weeks ago we had a great time in Mexico City learning about the Social Work program at UNAM .  The following week we got to host and room with 10 UNAM students here at our home in Cuernavaca.  I think we were all a little nervous about how this would go being that we were responsible for showing students who had lived in Mexico their whole lives around a city that we had been living in for less than three months, not to mention the communication barrier.

It didn’t take long to figure out that there was no need to worry. Most of them had never been to Cuernavaca and they seemed excited to see the downtown area which we have gotten to know pretty well. We also had a lot of fun and some pretty big laughs while trying to communicate with each other. What a perfect way to practice our Spanish and for them English.

Our group talking over tacos.

It turns out that Trabajo Social estudiantes (Social Work students) in Mexico have a lot in common with and a lot of the same interests as Social Work Students from the United States.  One of the main concerns discussed by the Augsburg CGE Social Work students here this semester is immigration.  Undocumented people in the United States are often treated badly by law enforcement officials (among other people) and have a difficult time providing themselves and/or families with basic needs.  One of the most important jobs of a Social Worker is seeing to it that people are not robbed of their basic human rights.  A lot of us were surprised to learn (I think because so many undocumented workers in the states are actually from Mexico) that immigration is a big concern for Social Workers here in Mexico as well.  A large number of undocumented workers from Central America have to travel through Mexico in order to get to the United States.  Often times those immigrants suffer terrible treatment by authorities that are corrupt.  We were able to discuss out mutual recognition for changes in policy and practice when it comes to undocumented immigrants.

Presentation by UNAM student Natali about migration through Mexico and the abuses that migrants suffer at the hands of authorities and organized crime. 

Natali's sketch of train routes that migrants take through Mexico.
There were also some activities planned for us during the week that helped us all get to understand certain social issues from a more personal perspective.  We had a panel of speakers who talked to us about their experiences going through life as a member of the GLBT community.  It was great to have the opportunity to be interactive with the people on the panel.  We learned a lot from them but also heard the personal experiences of some of the students which made for a great way to get a better perspective on the wide diversity of people and experiences within the GLBT community.   I think one of the most important things we recognized during our talk was that you can’t put people “in a box” when it comes to sexuality.  There is such a wide variety of people in the world that it’s impossible to fit everyone into a specific category and we need to stop labeling people or expecting people to label themselves. With sexuality being a difficult topic for a lot of people we were very lucky to hear such personal accounts of other people’s experiences with it.

Panel on sexual diversity
-- Britta Wee

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing so much detail from this past few weeks learning, Britta! The photos and sketch helps us feel like we are there with you. Tony