Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My reflections and feelings about Esperanza and Tijuana

 Tuesday was my day to post on the trip's blog here's my post...

For me, this year's trip has been different from all of my other trips, having lived here for so long last year, returning is a little strange. I missed Mexico so much while I was gone, and now being back I am slowly realizing how much this place, and this organization has changed me and helped me grow as a person. While I was down here last year I saw small changes, but mostly I was wrapped up in what was going on while I was here, and the work we were doing. When I returned home change was slow and I'm not sure if I ever fully took the time to reflect on my time here, but now having been back for about a week and a half now (I came down a week earlier than the group), I have really had time to examine everything that has changed in Tijuana, and in me in the last year, and over the past nine years.

  It's easy to come down here for a week each year, and to have an amazing time, meet kind and caring people. It's hard to return home and continue living out the lessons learned while here. We get sucked up in the fast pace of our lives and work and forget this wonderful place. Being back here the last two weeks has been completely refreshing. People talk about how selfless volunteering is, and how amazing it is for people to come here, to somewhere perceived as very dangerous and give their time. It's hard for me to see this trip that way, I almost feel selfish coming here, because of how much I get out of this trip, and how much I love it here. I have never been somewhere that I felt more welcomed and loved. The people we meet open their homes and hearts to us daily. They would give us the shirt off their back if we asked. Even though for many of us there is a language barrier we still find a way to communicate, we find a way to work side by side with people from the communities to accomplish something.

  I'm often asked why I come here when we're only building one part of one house. There are so many problems in Mexico, we can't possibly solve them all so why should we try and help.... Continue Reading on the trip blog

Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 8

Today we headed to the border in the morning after breakfast. This is always an interesting experience. There are a lot of mixed feelings when we go to the border. On one side, it was a beautiful day and we were at the beach, then there is a giant wall reminding us what side we were on and that some cannot cross, and that the friendship that once existed between the two countries no longer exists.

Every year there is different art on the wall....
 "The love of one's country is a splendid thing, but why should love stop at the border?"
-Pablo Casals

After our trip to the border we went downtown to Revolution street for lunch and some shopping...
Mom and I at lunch

Beautiful Mexican pottery

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Day 7

Buenas Dias!

So it is my 7th day in Mexico this year and I am on cloud nine! The group from Wooster is here! The main part of the group arrived early yesterday afternoon with a group of 4 walking across the border later due to a late flight getting in. I went to pick up the group that walked across. Heading to the border is always an interesting experience, and it's never the same. Right now they are doing construction on the border (They have been for a few years now) so things are constantly moving around (see earlier post about me walking over the wrong way). But we met up with them and all is well!

When the group arrives we always do an opening circle. It is one of my favorite experiences to see how people's comments and reactions change from the opening circle to the closing circle, how their perceptions change.

Emily Howard, who works for The College of Wooster's Office of Interfaith Campus Ministries wrote on the Wooster trip's blog yesterday and had some great things to say:

"In our first reflection circle yesterday, people shared some of what brought them to this place, and why they've come. Many people in our group have visited for many years (the most being, I think, 9 years in a row! and several past and present long-term volunteers among us). Trinity UCC shares a sense of commitment and particular mission with Esperanza International and this city. I am always impressed by the number of folks who point out houses they worked on years ago, have developed long relationships (even marriages!) thanks to Tijuana, and notice the changes and improvements in the city each time they return. Whether it's the music and the colors and the roosters, the families impacted, the differences and similarities in the way of life - they find something meaningful and unique that brings them back. "Why do you come to Tijuana?" is simple - they feel a connection in their life, in their spirit, with the people and the place, and want to share it with others here and back home.

Students' responses as to why they are here were a little different, as many are here for the first time. Many said they feel the desire and have a commitment to help, serve, and give back to others. They have learned about the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. and want to see the other side in person. Or, they knew another student who came and had a life-changing experience -- so, here we are!

As for me, I know one thing I'm looking for this week is to experience the connection between all people - whatever our language, income, work life, religion, culture. My best memories from last year's trip are those moments of surprising connection at the home sites, at the migrant shelter, the orphanage, even out shopping and at the taco stand. Esperanza says one of its goals is to promote global citizenship (actually, the COW says that too!). What connections do we share with this place? How can we promote a good relationship with our neighbors across the border?"

Four people will write on The College of Wooster & Trinity's Trip Blog Daily. Follow along for different perspectives on the trip and all of the experiences. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Wooster's Trip Blog

Starting tomorrow (Saturday) when the Wooster group gets here they will be keeping a blog of their experiences. Each day 1-2 people will post about what happened during the day. It is a good way to keep up with what is going on with the group, and see different perspectives on the week!

Trinity/College of Wooster Trip Blog

Day 6

I haven't posted for a few days. I took Wednesday and part of Thursday off from work to visit with Alex, the long term volunteer that was here with me, his girlfriend, Giselle, and some of the Mexican College students that volunteer on the weekends. It was nice to relax a little bit and hang out with friends! I also got to eat some of my favorite foods (in TJ)!
 There is an amazing Chinese food restaurant in La Gloria, this giant meal was about $4.00!

Heading out of La Gloria is one of my favorite taco stands they serve "El Dragon" this amazing mix between a fish taco and a quesadilla... so delicious!

Thursday morning Alex, Giselle, and I went to Rosarito in the morning for breakfast and had an amazing breakfast overlooking the beach! I am hoping to take the group there this weekend if we venture to Rosarito!

Today it was back to work, even though it was raining. We only got about two hours of work in before it started pouring down rain (again). The Providence College group is heading back over the border today. Being that it is lent we had fish for lunch, probably the best fish I have ever eaten! Fresh from the ocean to the fryer! Tomorrow the Wooster group gets here!

Sorry for all the food pictures, and no work pictures! Promise next week you will get more work pictures!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Heidi - Current Long Term Volunteer Blog

Heidi is from Ohio, we went to college together at The College of Wooster. She is the current long term volunteer with Esperanza and she is keeping a blog for the next four months while she is here:

Heidi's Creating Homes and Smiles in Tijuana, Mexico Blog

Mexico Day 3

Today I worked in a community called Cumbres with Roberto one of the technicians. The two of us with the help of Maria, the woman who owns the house we built a small wall and poured the cement for the wall. We didn't use a mixer, we simply mixed the ingredients together on the ground with shovels. Which sounds easy, but it was a lot of work! I am finding muscles I didn't remember I had. Below you can see Roberto building a wall and Maria helping below. We carried the sand for the cement and all the materials up that hill! At the bottom of the hill you can see the family's current bathroom, the room we were adding to will be their bathroom when it is finished. Also notice the tire/dirt steps, they are very resourceful!

It is always amazing to me to see the physical things I can do. I can lift, mix, and shovel more than I thought was possible. I also find that when it has to be my balance is pretty good!

 The view from Maria's back yard. You can see how dense the houses are and some are nicer, some are simply ply wood.
 There are many olive groves in the Tijuana area, in the distance if it wasn't so cloudy you could see the ocean.
There were horses grazing in the back yard.

And Roberto and I had delicious pizza for lunch! Bet you can't guess which half was mine...