Today, like most days here, was fairly intense. Intense in a sense that we are taking in so much new information and being exposed to a world that I never realized existed. The first main activity today was the community visit. The community we visited was “La Estación,” which means “the station.” This area was once part of the train system that ran throughout Mexico, but it was privatized in 1997 and now is no longer active. Basically people have moved into this area and really made it their own community.
The land is still government-owned, however there are over 10,000 people living in this area of approximately 50 acres. This area is truly prime land for the government so the people living there have the constant threat of being kicked out of the property. However they do “own” their house- but not the property… it’s confusing.
So basically we went to this community and visited the community center and a home of one of the people who live there. My group visited Francis. Francis was this beautiful woman, originally from the state of Guerrero who lives in this one-bedroom house with her husband and two children.
Something that stood out to me about Francis was the fact that she is bilingual– and almost ashamed to be so. She spoke her native language originally and then learned Spanish when she moved to Cuernavaca about 10 years ago. She is completely bilingual now! I mean, I truly thought she was a native Spanish speaker. What killed me was that she seemed almost ashamed when we asked her to speak in her native language. She turned her head to the side and spoke really quietly. She also said that she is not teaching her children her native language. Could you imagine? Bilingualism is something so valued and pursued in the States, however she was quite content to let that language slip away.
Unfortunately, Francis’ first language is a native language and having native Mexican heritage is not necessarily something to be valued here. What a shame! I only dream about having some hint of what my heritage could be, and here instead of taking hold of her native heritage, Francis, in a way, sweeps it under a rug. Her embarrassment over speaking in her first language struck me because it reminded me of the importance of language and the joy and weight a certain language carries. Hah I think that’s enough for tonight! ¡Buenas noches!
– Samantha Watson ‘09
Quote I got from Stine earlier this week:
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” -Talmud (attributed)