Sunday, September 26, 2010

the line between us

before i came to mexico, i experienced a lot of questioning and skepticism about why i would come to this country. there was a distinct, tense and racially charged undercurrent to these comments. once i arrived i have become increasingly aware of the presence of an anti-american sentiment here; equally as tense, equally as charged. the politics, the border, the walls, wars, identities, and imperialism that complicate our shared history have very real implications in the lives of real people.

it is easy to forget, on either side of the "border," that history and hatred between countries manifest themselves in subtle ways in peoples' hearts and minds, and serve to do nothing but injure.

this made its first, undoubtedly of many, appearances in my classroom this week. i am struggling to unpack my own political and personal identities and motivations while encouraging my students to do the same. we had a tearful class meeting following a day of heated rhetoric about perceptions and stereotypes between our countries. i hope to teach empathy and activism to my students; i intend to learn empathy and teaching as activism side by side with them. i want to build my daily curriculum around these ideals; lessons that i need to learn myself.

as i struggle to find ways to do this, i am inspired again by a friend, a teacher i admire, a student of his own students and a true student of this life, who has reminded me in the past that teaching in our time is precarious, necessary work as we walk the precipice of change and reform...

"Teaching tears us down. It is its very nature. We have to give into it. Let go of what we think teaching is and step out there, vulnerable, and willing to fail. We live in praxis, forced to constantly reinvent ourselves. You know how (shotgun degree/ practice/ theory/ philosophy/ friends lifting you up/ millions of thoughts, books and ideas) but now comes the hard part: trusting yourself..."

Monday, September 20, 2010


i'm not sure if i learned anything in graduate school. i was giving my students instructions today and they all were looking at me like i was crazy... which made me remember that i'm speaking a foreign language, so i am always sure to show directions in writing, with pictures and with actions. after having two other students explain what to do in their own way and another student explain in spanish, i took some questions and let them go to work. as soon as we went into work time, a line of at least seven students gathered around me and asked the dreaded, "what are we doing?"

what am i doing????

Sunday, September 19, 2010

pirámides y antropología

The long weekend allowed for me to explore the immense Museum of Anthropology and the Aztec pyramids in Teotihuacan:

In front of the pirámide del sol after climbing back down.

The super giant Mayan calendar in the museum.

One of my favorite photos yet, and the catalyst for a photo project I have always been wanting to do on Mexican alters and ofrendas.

María Catalina and María Elena.

A photo of the pyramid of the moon taken from on top of the pyramid of the sun.

Friday, September 17, 2010

poco a poco

As the world I left behind me grows closer together within itself and farther away in the distance, I am struggling against the exponentially steep learning curve that washes over me daily. Learning a new culture, a new language, learning how to do my job, how to live in one of the biggest cities in the world, I find that who I truly am has become very exposed to me. This puts a sense of purpose into my perspective when I am flooded with feelings of nostalgia and longing for the life I made for myself and left behind in Seattle. Some days the absurdity of my being here makes me laugh out loud, and other days the reasons all seem perfectly clear.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

día de la independencia

as far as adventuring goes, there have been a few besides fourth grade fiascoes and playing catch up with my job. one includes a trip to the historic center of the city to see el zocalo all dressed up for the bicentennial. last night was the 200th anniversary of mexican independence from spain. everything was lights and fireworks for el grito, where the president addressed thousands and thousands of people with a bell and the call and response "viva méxico!" it was really awesome that i was able to be here for it, so i celebrated with my friends by having a little dinner party and watching fireworks all over the city from on top of my apartment building.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

cuidad de mexico

Hola a todos! Welcome to the revival of my European travel blog, repurposed now for stories about Mexico living. I arrived three weeks ago to Mexico City and have been warmly welcomed by my co-workers, students and their families. I'm living in a sweet little hacienda-style apartment with exposed brick, arched doorways and a fireplace. It faces the garden that has fruit trees and cactus and a little street cat that is trying to adopt me. I'm up in the hills above the city, a very long distance from the city center. There is a market close by, with most of the things I need, but I am severely missing the short walks to coffee shops, vegetarian restaurants and parks that luxuriated my Seattle life.

Yesterday I bought a fresh-made guitar from an old man who had finished building it in the adjoining shop last week. It should be nice to have it around for the every evening thunderstorms. It has been funny (dumb) to be replacing so many of the things I left behind in my ultra-haste to leave Seattle... as a late-hire, I left my home and friends in Seattle, in what some would rightly call a frenzy, to arrive in Minnesota to travel to Illinois to celebrate a beautiful wedding to then arrive in Mexico and start work the next day. I had two days of workshops and two days to set up my classroom before the first day of school. But after that first day, I feel like I have been at this school forever, and have been a teacher for always.

More from me soon about students, mariachis, cultural blunders and other adventures...