Friday, March 2, 2012

“Peace is not won by those who fiercely guard their differences, but by those who with open minds and hearts seek out connections.”

And now our two week adventure comes to an end. We have done what we set out to do—serve the students and teachers of UTEQ in Queretaro, Mexico, and we have done it with love, resourcefulness, commitment and creativity, thanks to a wonderful team of volunteers and our team leader, Pam. We accomplished our other goals of having a cultural experience and having fun; making friends; staying warm; and eating well. In the eating category, a highlight was the Thursday night special, pozole, at La Mariposa last night.

The last two days have been enhanced by celebratory experiences with the students—everything from food at the end (or beginning) of class, thank you comments from the students, presentations, and, most special to me, the songs sung by students for us. I was moved to tears yesterday when the students in one class sang a song for us at the end of class in both Spanish and English, accompanied by a student playing the guitar. The song began “Do you know how much I love you? Do you know how much I care?” These students are sweet and kind; respectful of us, their teachers and each other; committed to learning English and very appreciative of our efforts to help them learn. They are precious beyond words.

After a short morning of classes, our day and adventure at UTEQ ended with a party for the teachers which began with Bill speaking a message of heartfelt appreciation which touched and moved all of us and then us singing two songs composed by Tom to familiar tunes—“Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” and “Anything Goes” which the teachers seemed to love. Then two spokespersons for the teachers expressed words of thanks and appreciation and sang “Ceilito Lindo” for us in Spanish. On to sweets and goodies and informal visiting one on one and in small groups with the teachers, where over and over we were told how valuable we are and what a contribution we make to the students. Then back to the hotel for picture-taking and free time before dinner this evening—our last time together as a team.

I end this journal piece by saying that I can’t find a way to put into words how precious this experience has been.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

I am pleased that I decided to return to Queretaro because I have been truly inspired by the energy of my fellow volunteers and team leader, Pam. My daily walks in many diverse neighborhoods have truly enhanced my cross cultural awareness as well as another “slice” of neighborhood life.

In the mornings I’m greeted by other walkers/persons exercising; city workers busily cleaning the streets; observing parents walking or driving their children with their colorful uniforms to school; women sitting in the car applying make-up; others taking a taxi or bus to work; while others enter the church. All of these activities appear to be accomplished in a quiet calmness. Last Sunday as I was walking, I stopped to read a posted menu. A father and son asked if I spoke English; I said yes. After some small talk, he shared his Sunday morning tradition/routine. He drove across town to this area to purchase tamales from this location. He purchased both Queretaro traditional tamales as well as the Oaxacan traditional tamales, then returns home to enjoy them with his family along with coffee; Oaxacan hot chocolate and juice. Yes, I sampled the tamales and hot chocolate—they were delicious!!