Friday, May 10, 2013

With Love, Laughter, and a Bit of Tears

Even before the goodbyes that will have to be said to all the friends and family that we (CGE students and staff) have created with each other over the last four months, there are many other goodbyes that I’ve had to say. We have made so many memories made since our arrival in Cuernavaca, and so much has happened that made all of us so much stronger than when we had first arrived. On this journey we have made friends, created family, and shared lifelong memories full of laughter and tears.

I arrived to Cuernavaca with no Spanish at all; it was tough navigating my way around without help from other students and staff (who I am really grateful for). But the most memorable one is at Eishel, where I intern and where I have made friends with all the residents there.

Eishel is a senior home for the Jewish community located in Cuernavaca, Mexico. A good thirty minute walk from CGE, or a ten to fifteen minute drive. In Eishel, there are always daily exercises and activities that the residents can participate in and have fun. Some of them choose to sit around outside or somewhere in the Social Room and watch TV or talk the day away about random things.

Cake to celebrate the residents with birthdays in April.
When I first arrived at Eishel, I was really nervous, because my Spanish was only basic. I have a hard time forming sentences and answering or asking questions. But with only my basic Spanish in hand, and facing head on into Eishel, I found myself easily surrounded by many wonderful elderly people who welcomed me with open arms and laughter. I was able to expand on my Spanish a bit as they teach me different words every time I’m there.

“Just listen, and ask question if you don’t understand.” That was the first piece of advice one of the residents gave me, and from then on, I tried really hard to listen. Though I may not speak Spanish well, I catch on to words from listening and from reading, which one of the English teachers at Eishel has helped me to do.

Not only did I find this friendliness inside Eishel, I found it everywhere around me. As long as you make the effort to try, and even though people may laugh and chuckle a bit at you, they will openly correct you and teach you the right way of saying or asking a question.

Celebrating Isreali Independence Day
I have learned a lot more at Eishel than just improving my Spanish.  For example, I learned so much about the Jewish community. I heard many stories from them about friends and family near and far. I learned about their culture and ceremonies they celebrate, and the reason behind why they celebrated. For example, once a year in April, Jewish people come together to light candles in remembrance of the six million Jews who died in the Concentration Camps during the Holocaust; or how Jews consider Israel their homeland and celebrate Israel’s Independence Day as theirs. I thought that this was very interesting, because being Hmong, we do not have a homeland, therefore we don’t have an Independence Day to celebrate, unless it’s the country that we live in.

Candles burning in rememberance of 6 million people who died during the Holocaust.
With so much memories made at Eishel, it will be very hard to leave, to say goodbye without sharing some tears and laughter. Although it was only three months there, it was a really short journey full of friendship filled with lots of laughter, lifelong memories, and happiness that has really impacted my life.

-- Ornida Moua


  1. Thanks for sharing this moving experience and such examples of courage and caring, Ornida, including your own! Being multilingual will enhance your social work competencies exponentially. Tony

  2. Thank you for telling us all about your experience at your internship ornida! I felt the same fear going into my internship about not being able to speak spanish and being from a different cultural background! Though over time I learned so much more spanish and was able to communicate through both verbal and non-verbal communication. I think our internships were one of the most valuable experiences for us all here! Thanks again for sharing! From-Brittney Westgard:)

  3. Hi Ornida,

    This is such a strong piece of writing you have put into this blog. I totally feel you; my Spanish is HORRIBLE, even after taking a Spanish Language class for a semester, I still feel like I have many errors. Other that, I am so happy that you were able to learn more about the Jewish culture and their traditions. Reading your blog about it totally brightened and open my mind just learning about another culture just reading your blog. I felt a sudden chill when I read about the candle lit that represents those who died during the holocaust. It is a very hard and heavy feeling. I wish we as Hmong people, had a day like that too, and celebrate it as a remembrance of our history. Anyway, thank you again for posting this beautiful blog and hope you spend your time wisely there in Mexico before you head back home! :D

    Nancy Lee