Neighbors

We have finally arrived in Puebla, Puebla, Mexico, after two days of delays and a pretty short flight we are here in our neighboring country. Algunos quieren saber, porque estamos aqui y porque decidimos venir a Mexico. Nosotros venimos por varias razones. Para mi, Mexico es, sin duda, una de mis paises favoritos para visitar en el mundo. When I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Queretaro I did not realize how life changing it would be to experience Mexico.

Coming here in many ways felt like I was coming home. I soaked in the beautiful colors, sounds of music, lush flowers, full markets, old cobblestone streets, diverse architecture, and massive churches. Although the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells were awe inspiring to behold, the real impact came from the people and their way of living. En mi experiencia, la gente recibe a los de mas con abrazos abiertos. El entusiasmo de la gente hacia los invitados es diferente de muchos paises. Ellos nos aceptan como familia inmediatamente. La gente trabaja muy duro y todavia sabe como apreciar las cosas mas importantes.

For me, Mexico and the way people live in many ways is how I desire to live. With an open home, people always coming in and out, food available for guests and friends at a moments notice, undeserving hospitality, and a deep appreciation for life amidst the struggle, sorrow and joy. La manera en cual ellos escojan de celebrar los muertos es muy honorable y respectable. El Dia de los Muertos es una celebracion compuesta de flores, musica, comida, decoraciones y la comunidad que hace que los cementerios recobren vida en memoria y en honor de las personas que han pasado a la otra vida. What a beautiful expression of peace, joy, and sorrow it is. Being here feels like coming home in many ways.

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However, I am a foreigner, I not only look different but I come from a place that is very foreign even though it is so close. A beautiful place- we have our strengths and weaknesses for sure. Being foreign, I am not aware of all the cultural rules and expectations and todavia no puedo hablar el idioma como yo quiero, pero estoy aqui para entender y aprender. So, I ask myself in the midst of this why am I here – am I helping in any way or am I exploiting, using, reinforcing stereotypes, continuing to participate in oppression? How am I helping, how am I hurting? Even being here in some ways feels problematic and is something I need to be very conscientious of. My hope is to work toward liberation, peace, and share in connection, communication, and freedom. Pues, yo tengo la esperanza de aprender mas sobre Mexico, el idioma Espanol, y nuestros vecinos para poder ser una buena amiga de mis vecinos.

Desafortunadamente, en los Estados Unidos y en muchos lugares en el mundo no es muy comun conocer a nuestros vecinos, y mucho mas raro el compartir, amar y cuidar a los demas. As of late, a majority of our country has expressed a lot of fear and hatred toward our neighbors to the south. There is a lot of disdain for “those people” and people want to keep “them” out. What is going on with immigration including the humanitarian crisis on the border is incredibly complicated and heated. It is scary, sad, historical, worrisome, confusing, and complicated beyond belief. People are suffering greatly not only in the U.S but the impacts are felt all over including Mexico.

As neighbors we can choose to pretend that we are not intimately involved with this, but the truth is we are. Tenemos una relacion muy intima con nuestros vecinos, economicamente, fisicamente, politicamente, etc. There is a lot to be done about this relationship and it can be very overwhelming to think about. My hope is that through this trip that I and others would continue to think about how to learn about, listen to, care about, and see our neighbor. Both our physical neighbors in Denver, those we pass on the street, those who want, need, and have come to the U.S. and those who live in Mexico and beyond.

Paulo Friere so beautifully talks about freedom from oppression and the process of liberation in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He believes that we must share in dialogue in order to change and to share in bringing about liberation. He says the core tools one needs to dialogue are love, humility, an intense faith in human kind, reflection, action, hope, and critical thinking. My hope is that we as people would start/ continue to see each other as people- neighbors, friends, family. Si podemos ver el uno al otro/los unos a los otros como humanos, como familia, posiblemente podamos cambiar el sistema y compartir la vida juntos, sin violencia, sin miedo, sin pobreza, y con mucha esperanza. It will take sacrifice, it will be hard, and it will be worth it.

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