Friday, February 14, 2014


                This past week our group was welcomed into the rural town of Amatlάn de Quetzalcoatl. It was an absolutely amazing experience that opened my eyes to many things. The sense of community that resonated throughout the town was a powerful component to their culture. This overwhelming collectiveness amongst family, friends and neighbors was visually obvious as I watched them give thanks and appreciation to the things that are taken for granted in daily life. This observation left me questioning how many daily privileges and rights do I often overlook?
Roadway in Amatlan
                The importance of togetherness was exemplified most often around the kitchen table. Here I cherished the moments I spent with my host family laughing, making homemade tortillas and tamales, and discussing various topics related to life in Amatlάn. One conversation in particular settled deep within my mind and heart after learning about the education system within Amatlάn and the surrounding Mexican municipalities. Education is mandatory for children and adolescence through high school, but more often than not it is not reinforced. This lack of follow-through is just one challenge the schools face. Other obstacles are lack of funding, lack of resources such as necessary class materials, and the disconnect between the government focus and the actual school needs.
Public Elementary School
                What surprised and saddened me most is how much time and money the parents needed to commit in order for their child to attend school. In addition to the daily requirements such as uniforms and lunch money, the parents must also pay and perform all maintenance and repairs on the building and cook the meals for the children at lunch time. These stipulations steal the right of education away from many families because if they do not have the funds to build and maintain a school, their children go without education. If this obstacle alone does not damper their motivation, the financial strain due to shuttling the child to a neighboring town with a school and equipping them with the required materials is more than they can provide.
                As I sat in the kitchen and interacted with Fernando and Alvaro, two of the children in the extended family, I felt conflicted with the direction their futures would lead if the right to education was not a resource that could be more attainable. As the oldest child read my roommates t-shirt from Augsburg, the warmth of tears filled my eyes. "The sky is the limit" is a statement that we hold onto and strive towards in our academic journey. But where is the sky if the limits are smothered by systematic oppression and privatization of education? What can be done so the human right of education can be accessible and available to all students in Mexico, the United States and all countries?
Fernando and the Girls
                As I look at the faces of these children I am brightened by their laughter, hope, intelligence and curiosity of the world. As a social worker, my spirit has been strengthened by the desire to advocate and change this situation so that every child is given the chance to share their twinkle and light among the bigger sky of our world.

-Amy Amsler, Student


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience and insights, Amy! Tony Bibus

  2. Peace, Love and Respect. I am very pleased to have read your entry on your journey in Mexico and It makes me think as well of the advantages that we as so-called Americans take for granted such as school supplies, building maintenance, etc. The HEAPER fund is a state grant of money every two years by the legislature to keep our schools(Higher Ed.) safe, dry, etc. The people of Mexico and many other so-called 3rd world countries have to maintain on their own which we can hardly comprehend and we are so unappreciative(for the most part) of the resources we hover. I commend you for the experience and for sharing with the Augsburg community and look forward to reading future posts and commenting a few more times. One Love.
    Reies Romero/Save The Kids/SWK major

  3. Amy,
    First of all, I miss you!
    Second of all, I enjoyed reading your post for many reasons. I am reminded of the times I was a little girl and we sat around the table while my mom made homemade tortillas. It was deeply engraved in our culture to eat together and come together during lunch or dinner. I am very happy that you are experiencing this culture and that you are learning from it. I can see how the interactions with others has made an impact in your mind and soul. What struck me the most is the sense of responsibility that's been planted in your "social work mind". I honestly believe that you'll learn of ways to advocate and make in impact in someone's life, weather is in Mexico or here. I loved the title of your post, and I loved how you brought it all together to talk about the sky under which these children live. Thanks so much for sharing and know that although I wish you were here with the rest of us, I am very happy that you're discovering, learning and enjoying a new country!
    Much respect,

    1. P.s. sorry about all the misspells!! :)

  4. Amy!
    Oh how I miss you so much! I miss having classes with you and can not wait to talk to you soon. We should skype if you figured it all out?!?! Anyways, I really enjoyed reading your blog. Your writing made me feel as though I was there in your shoes. It was sad yet motivating. I love the point you made about "the sky is the limit". It saddens me to know that these children have very many limits that prevent them from reaching although they are trying. I think these children could not have a better person advocating for them other then you! I miss you dearly but I am glad that you are learning and experiencing something so moving.
    -Cayla Tilbury

  5. Amy,
    I want to say I very much enjoyed reading your post and I too will not forget this experience that we have shared. First, because it was very new to me and I have learned many new things from this experience. I also enjoyed the sense of family I experienced when we were in Ametlan during our homestay, because we always were able to converse around the dinner table. Making tortillas was also a great way to experience the culture of the area and I believe Mexico in general because it is a stable food here. You also made a great insight into the education system, because these are many costs that are covered by taxes in the United States. As a student in high school or younger I or my parents did not think about paying for building up keep or a uniform. These things may not seem like a lot, but it does keep people from getting an education as we have seen.

  6. Hola Amy,

    As I read your post it reminds me of the economic disparities that Mexicans encounter day by day. My family and many people from my culture believe that education is the most important thing, they also believe that education is the only inheritance they can give their children. But not everyone has access to it. I remember when I lived in Cuautla, Morelos when I was younger my mother would be part of the cooks that came to the school and prepared lunch or the kids, I did remember we had to pay for it. Also in my brothers school parents and teachers had to buy the school supplies and sometimes even play the role of handyman. At that time that community was not the most poverty stricken but it was not the richest. There was some support form the government and also funding. Then when I moved to Veracruz which is in a better economic situation, my school had government employees that fixed and cleaned the school building, most of the books, chairs, desks and all that was provided by funding from the government. This just shows how depending on the economic situation of the community, is how much the government helps or not. Like in many places the poorer get poorer and the richer get richer. This not only happens with education, but also with any social services, community buildings and all those services that should be government funded.

    I am so glad you had the opportunity to travel and experience a new culture. I also love how you are using your social work skills to learn and observe the different forms of oppression and discrimination.