For the last two and half months we have adventured to many different places that are reflective of the Mexican culture. A few of my favourites were a volcano hike, Lucha Libre, Globos market, and the Baja 1000 off-road race. All of these excursions were terrific outings where we met many kind people and experienced Mexican culture.
This week I attended our different volunteer positions and visited my host family one evening. I really enjoy going to Buen Samaritano, because I like the work I get the opportunity to do there. I enjoy the reactions I get when I ask for the "man’s" job.
This week was very challenging, but also very rewarding. I was able to learn so much about poverty and about those experiencing poverty that I’ve never thought about before. One of the hardest things I learned this week is how little free time people have to spend with family and friends. There is always something to do.
Being empowered doesn't come from things that come easy to us. It comes from the tougher times where we push ourselves to the limits and survive to tell the story. That's how I feel about this experience.
We returned to the fields again and this time was more interesting for me because I was actually able to go. I was sick the day before and had to stay behind. I have some previous farming experience from my work back in Canada. We harvested zucchini, cutting them off the plant and then throwing them in the dirt to be collected later. This surprised us all. In Mexico, only the small little zucchini’s are able to be sold, apparently no one wants to eat the larger ones. The concept still confuses me, the fact that so much food goes to waste simply because of its shape and size, because the market prefers them a certain way.
Planning for Week in the Life, learning what it was about, and trying to think of ways to prepare for it, was all very exciting. However, now that we are actually a part of the experience, we have a totally new mindset.
When I made plans to come here to the Live Different Academy, I didn’t have any idea what it would be like. So far, it has been one surprise after another. The things I know that have proven useful are not what I expected to use. At Oasis, an after-school program for kids, I have been able to embrace my love of art and share it with the children. One of the teachers there invited me to do art lessons with the kids and I jumped at the chance. Art is something I love so much because it is a great way to express yourself and it can never be wrong. Art is an interpretation of who the artist is. Above all else, my hope is that the children will take that lesson with them.
We had our first full week of volunteering and I felt it went really well. We volunteered at various organizations including Casa Hogar Ebenezer and Buen Samaritano - old age homes, Oasis - an after-school program, Welcome Home - a daycare, New Beginnings- a women’s shelter, and we taught English and an art class at a local school and a community center.
During our first week back in Zapata, after Spanish school in Ensenada, we spent most of our time visiting all the volunteering locations and learning about their history and mission. We visited a few afterschool daycares - Oasis, Welcome Home, and Chula Vista Community Center; a couple old age homes - Buen Samaritano and Casa Hogar Ebenezer; and a Women’s shelter called New Beginnings.
This is Andia. Last Christmas, she was inspired by a campaign we did asking people to donate towards school uniform for students at the Live Different school in Haiti. (She even wrote a letter at Christmastime to Papa Noel, thanking him for visiting the students at the school in Haiti to bring their new uniforms!)
Traveling to Mexico and living immersed in the culture is an incredible privilege that I am very lucky to be a part of. The opportunity to learn Spanish while living here is such a blessing and advantage I did not think I would have.
I’ve always been different. I knew that very early growing up as a person with a physical disability. Having cerebral palsy can leave you misunderstood by others, but I saw power in that. If people are reading you wrong, then you have the opportunity to help them understand who you are, and most importantly what you’re capable of.
Here at Live Different, we love the 'straight-to-the-heart' style of Brene Brown's books and speeches. Her work has been such a huge inspiration to us as we've put together our motivational presentations this year, and we love this video that was put together for her new book. Check it out, and consider making it your own manifesto this year!
The family that our team is building for is made up of Florencia, and her two adult sons, Martin and Jose. During the trip, I found out that Martin had been born with a clubbed foot and has had to live with it his whole life due to very limited access to medical care. This struck close to home for me because my youngest sister was also born with two clubbed feet.