Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Speaking Engagments

So now that I'm back in Minneapolis, I've been lining up some presentations to give to various communities through out the Twin Cities. As of right now I'll be speaking August 3rd to the Minneapolis South Rotary Club, August 9th to the Woman's Environmental Institute's Organic Farm School Class and to a group of high school kids from the Little Earth of United Tribe, the date for this one is still TBD.

The following are lecture topics for each presentation-

Minneapolis South Rotary Club
- This one will be more focused on my experiences in Mexico as a Ambassador of Goodwill.

Woman's Environmental Institute's Organic Farm School- The fight against transgenic corn in rural indigenous Mexico.

Little Earth of United Tribes- The basics of genetically modified organisms and the possible consequences for indigenous communities in Mexico and the United States.

If you are interested in attending one of these three presentations, please contact me to let me know. You can email me at rega0078@umn.edu.

Artwork: Mujer Indigena by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Last Post!

Well this might be my final blog post, I'm not quite sure.

Two months early and after 10 months, I am finally back in the states. Since I've gotten home, I've been making sure to eat healthy, exercise and get plenty of rest. I can tell (well lets cross our fingers) if I keep doing this, little by little, my body and spirit will heal.

I feel so fortunate to have had this wonderful opportunity to share such beautiful experiences with others, to grow as a persons and to expand my mind. When I think about the goals I had as an Ambassadorial Scholar, I am happy to say that I accomplished what I was looking to do-

1. Carry out meaningful and positive community service

After unsuccessfully finding a Rotary projects of which to take part in and volunteer my services, I went off on my own and decided to reach out to a single local honey producer as my community service project. I helped him diversify his products, expand his local market, create informational brochures, create a business plan. Most importantly, I helped spark a small fire within him to be proud of his work and become more passionate and open to using his creative talents to expand his small business.

2. Break down walls of discrimination and build relationships of peace and understanding

In regards to building cross-cultural relationship of peace and understanding, I hope and I tried my best to contribute to breaking down borders of prejudice when friends, family and those in my vicinity. Many times my friends or class members would approach me and tell me that I was very different from what they thought an American girl my age would be like. At first, hearing this comment in its many variations made me upset numerous times, but then I realized that a positive change and transformation was taking place within the people making these remarks. Through my friendships, presentations and lectures, I hope I helped open the eyes of many people to the fact that the stereotype of an overweight, uninformed and apathetic American may need to be reevaluated. Discussing on many important issues such as immigration and U.S. foreign policy with numerous people created beautiful and unique safe spaces where ideas could be created and shared where furthering of understanding could flourish. I was also able to breakdown many of my own stereotypes I held from growing up and traveling to Mexico frequently, about family relations, machismo and violence.

I am currently planning to speak with the Rotrians of South Minneapolis to see if they could support me in providing a mini public film festival focused on a few important current political and social issues in Mexico such as violence, gangs, immigration and child labor. I think it would be a great and creative idea to show some amazing movies and documentaries I have picked out, present them to the public and then have time to discuss these issues openly. I would love to do this as a way to create awareness here at home and to continue to help break down borders of prejudice.

August 9th I will be giving a public lecture on a topic focused on rural indigenous communities and agriculture in Mexico for the Woman's Environmental Institute's 10 week Organic Farm School Class. I'll keep you posted when I have more details.

3. Build a meaningful relationship

This was one of the biggest things I accomplished. Strengthening family relationships and creating new ones with Rotarians and friends. I know that this part of my experience will be with me forever and that I have made life-long friends. I now have a number of good friends from Mexico in the process of making arrangements to come and visit, I can't wait!!

4. Grow and flourish with professional and personal knowledge

Taking graduate level classes in Spanish, making a number of visits to rural and/or indigenous communities, researching and learning about domestic and foreign Mexican agriculture related issues and the numerous and diverse conversations I shared with those in Mexico have all pushed my limits of comfort (in a great way), thus making me a stronger, more informed, compassionate and skilled person.

I could go on and on about what an absolutely amazing experience this scholarship opportunity has been, but I've tried to sum it up in these four points.

I want to say thank you to all the Rotarians, friends and family who made this possible, I am forever in debt to you. Knowing that others made this opportunity a possibility for me, I continue to work to promote ideals of peace, justice and understanding that transcends borders.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm Home!

I just got home today!! I can't believe it! Let me settle in and get a few things organized and I'll catch up and let you know how my final days went, how it's been going since I got back and some final reflections. Thanks-Maria

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Another Plug for My Hero

I saw this....and I just HAD to share it with you. Hopefully I'm not making you all sick of Will Allen. I hope I'm doing the opposite, sparking a little interest in issues such as food-justice, structural racism, food systems, national and international policy, finding out where you food comes from etc.

In the end...you all know, I'm currently working to follow the steps Will has laid out for me/us in lessening the injustices in our country and in our world through food.

Maybe I should change this blog website title to, "Will Allen is my Hero", noooo....just kidding, but I am thinking about doing a blog just on food-justice. Actually, I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it once I get back home and settled in again.

Check this out, it's a pretty good intro video to Will and his work- The Good Food Revolution

What does this have to do with my time here in Mexico? A lot. I've been here learning about key issues in indigenous, campesino, rural and urban communities, the injustices they face when it comes to food access, food production, development, etc. and how they are working to survive and provide alternatives. This is all part of my learning process in educating myself on such issues to be better equipped to really work with and for our local and global communities in providing equity, healthy lifestyles and peace.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bring on the Kleenex!

Yup....that's right.....as of two days ago marks the first day of the dreaded and awful "goodbye" process. I know this because two days ago was the first time I cried quite a bit about leaving Mexico, I'm pretty sure I was telling Miguel he just wasn't going to understand how hard it is going to be leaving my life, family and friends here.

I think it went a little something like this, "Sobbb...it's just that you don't understand sobbbbbbb, how hard it's going to be......sobbbbbbb, uhhhhhhhhhhh soobbbbbbbbbb, leaving everysooobbbbbbbbbthing. My friends, school uhhhsobbbbbbbbb family behind sobbbbbuhhhh and start all over again sobbbbbbbbbb...."

Something like that as I recall, and poor Miguel, listening and supporting me the whole time, who knows if he could even understand me between the tears and sniffling.

Sure enough, I had another "attack" of tears tonight when I had to say goodbye to (with all do respect when I say this) "los viejitos" of the two Rotary Clubs here in Texcoco. I had the pleasure of having one more meeting with this group of "over the hill" (jeje) distinguished, proud and very endearing men who have always invited me to be part of their family and have always made me feel comfortable. My last Rotary meeting with them was amazing...we were all laughing and telling jokes the whole time and of course, being their guest of honor AND the only female there....like always....they treated me like a queen. I can't say I didn't like it and think it was funny and curious at the same time.

This time the sobs started the moment after I said goodbye to Leonardo Leal, my Rotary Counselor, or mejor dicho, the person who was in charge in making sure I was fine and at home here in Mexico. I must say he did a great job and I greatly appreciate it. I held the tears in when he and I were saying goodbye, but the moment I closed the door behind me......my repressed tears surged....

Being such a sensitive person, I have no clue how in the world I'm going to make it through these next 8 days alive without drowning in tears. Imagine-every time I have to say goodbye to someone I've become close to....every friend and family member! Just thinking about it makes me want to cry!

I don't know what I'm going to do with myself! I'm not looking forward to these next few days.

NOTE: Now this story is a little exaggerated and dramatic (there's a reason my boyfriend calls me Señorita exagerada aka "little miss exaggerated"), but I really feel like this, but don't worry I'm not some emo kid ready to end her life or anything....I know everything will be fine and this is part of the constant process of life, death and rebirth that cycles in our lives and needs to accepted and fully embraced.

Sorry Guys.....

Yeah, so I'm sure you're pretty bummed out because you're now starting to get the hint that my posts in these next few days are going to be sad and depressing, about leaving, right? Well, yeah, you're pretty right on. This is part of this whole experience as well and frankly, I'm going to share it with you...sorry. But I'll try to put some positive things in there as well because as much as this is a sad process, it's also an amazing and beautiful experience. These are a few quotes I picked up to focus on the miraculous, unexplainable and heart-warming aspect of the transformation of my experiences and friendships created here into something new and marvelous-

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."-Dr. Seuss

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."-Maya Angalu

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Child Obesity, Will Allen, Mexico's President and Michelle Obama

This just in from Growing Power...Remember when I wrote a post about childhood and adult obesity in Mexico and the U.S. or when I shared Will Allen's Good Food Manifesto on this blog? Well in this post these things, along with a connection to Mexico mergers. Just when I think that Will Allen can't be any more ground-breaking and amazing, he does something else that makes me admire him even more revolutionary. He's my hero for a reason... how many public figures (because that is what he is know) do you know that break down cultural, economic, international and class borders to bring people together for social and food justice? Not many. Will Allen is one of our modern day revolutionary activists that are really making a change, right here and right now.

Check it out-


Will Allen returns to the
White House

Growing Power CEO a guest at
Mexican state dinner

Milwaukee (May 17, 2010) – Just two months after First Lady Michelle Obama asked him to stand with her in Washington as one of four Americans speaking in support of the launch of her “Let’s Move!” initiative to end childhood obesity, Will Allen of Growing Power has again been invited to the White House, this time as a guest at a dinner to honor the official state visit of the president of Mexico.

The state dinner is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The invitation, received Thursday, read: “The President and Mrs. Obama request the pleasure of the company of Mr. Will Allen at a dinner in honor of His Excellency Filipe Calderon Hinojosa, President of Mexico, and Mrs. Margarita Zavala.”

“It is an absolute honor to be invited by the president and Mrs. Obama to such a prestigious and important event,” Allen said. “It will give me an opportunity to continue building important relationships that will help drive our Good Food Revolution. I’m really looking forward to

The invitation capped a heady week for Allen. On Saturday, in the midst of hosting Growing Power’s Fifth Annual National and International Urban Agriculture Workshop, with more than 100 attendees participating in intensive training, he took time off from his duties to accept an honorary doctor fine arts degree from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and to deliver the commencement address to 140 graduates of the institute.

Here is a link to the Let's Move Campaign

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Quote from Luis Villoro

"El regreso al pasado no es un camino transitable"
not translated literally-

"A return to the past is not a possible path"

de Estado plural, pluralidad de culturas, 1998

Picture: L'Etacq Quarry by Virgina Colback

Alto al SB1070

I'm sure all of you have heard about the recent Arizona Law SB-1070, and if you haven't its time you get out of your own personal little bubble and start paying attention to whats going on in your country and in the world, please look it up. Here is an email I got from activist and academic Roberto Rodriguez of Arizona regarding the law-

*Welcome to Apartheid, Arizona USA* *
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez*

“If I am alien, where is my spaceship?”

This is how we feel right now in Tucson.

It’s a line in a poem from Cantos Al Sexto Sol (Wings Press, 2002). This is how we feel right now in Arizona. It is insane here.

First they have come for our bodies (to deport those of they can); now they come for our souls.

No matter what they do, they will never have our spirits. The last part, I believe, is a line from Aztlan Underground.

With Arizona in the spotlight, most of the nation has focused on the draconian anti-immigrant law: SB 1070. But what has to be clear is that this is the culmination of a 518-year ongoing and relentless war. Nothing less. The mood here is not anti-immigrant. It is anti-Mexican. The racial
profiling law has little to do with legalities; it is about the expressed targeting of red-brown Indigenous peoples.

Law officers do not or will not target generic Hispanics or even Mexicans. Their profile is 100% Indigenous. That’s why American Indians in Arizona too understand precisely what this law is all about (Navajo Times, May 13); they are subject to this profile because the similarities are obvious: short, dark hair, dark eyes and red-brown skin. Spaniards or other Europeans are not at risk.

How do we know this? Look to the historic practices of the migra. Or let’s look at the practices of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They have been racial profiling for years, and now, the governor has authorized all law enforcement to be able to do the same, under the threat of lawsuits, etc. For years, those of us with red-brown skin have lived this reality anywhere along the U.S./Mexico border. Nowadays, this anti-Mexicanism, under the veneer of anti-illegal immigrant fervor, is nationwide.

That is about our bodies. And I repeat, the targets are Indigenous.

In past years, they’ve gone after our tongues. In Arizona, in the year 2000, it was proposition 203 – a measure that virtually gutted bilingual education, on the belief that it is better to be monolingual, than to be bilingual. To this day, the question remains: what does language have to do with legalities and illegalities? (And truthfully, on these matters, Arizona is simply following California’s footsteps from the 1990s).

The latest salvo is HB 2281; this one is about our souls.

This new law is an attempt by Superintendent Tom Horne to eliminate Ethnic Studies. Specifically, Horne has targeted Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program, arguing that what is taught there, is outside of Western Civilization and should not be taught in Arizona schools.

This law has nothing to do with “illegal immigration.” If anything, it closely resembles the practices of the early European friars who deemed Indigenous knowledge to be Godless and attempted to both demonize it and destroy it completely. The burning of the books of our ancestors – Indigenous peoples of this continent – resides deep within our psyche. The philosophical foundation for Mexican American Studies in general is Maya-Nahuatl knowledge – derived from thousands of years of maize culture. Anthropologists refer to it as Mesoamerican knowledge. One part of it is: In Lak Ech – Tu eres mi otro yo – you are my other self (me). It is an ethic that teaches us that we are all part of each other and connected to each other. It is a human rights ethos connected to social justice and love of humanity and of all things living and non-living.

This is what Horne wants to ban, what he wants to eliminate. Could book-burnings and an Inquisitorial auto-de-fe be next? Of course. This is what he wants. This is what he demands. He has singled out Rodolfo Acuña’s book, Occupied America and Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed as examples of books that preach hate, promote segregation, anti-Americanism and the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

After the law was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, metaphorically, an auto-de-fewas precisely what Horne came to conduct at TUSD the very next day. Hundreds upon hundreds of middle and high school students laid siege to the TUSD headquarters. When he failed to show his face, he then scheduled a press conference at the nearby state building a couple of miles away. The same students marched to the state building laying siege to that building. Eventually, 15 arrests were made (I was one of them).

Why are students willing to be arrested? Because the two books singled out are but the beginning. The new law – despite being in compliance per the TUSD legal counsel – authorizes the monitoring and censorship of books and curriculums to ensure they are in compliance with the law. Only non-educators could have come up with this one.

And so here we are again; welcome to apartheid arizona, u.s.a..

Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at:

Column of the Americas
PO BOX 85476
Tucson, AZ 85754



You change my way of writing, you change my way of thinking. You change my
way of thinking, you change who I am.