Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Pause for Soil

While somewhat related to my blog, this entry will be the first of many interchapters or I guess you could say "interpostings" that explore the various complex, fun, grave or light hearted topics that come across my path on this journey.

At one of our Organic Farm School classes, geographer Pat Farrell started class with the following poem:


My country is this dirt
that gathers under my fingernails
when I am in the garden.
The quiet bacteria and fungi,
all the little insects and bugs
are my compatriots.
They are idealistic, always working together
for the common good.
I kneel on the earth
and pledge my allegiance
to all the dirt of the world,
to all of that soil which grows
flowers and food
for the just and unjust alike.
The soil does not care
what we think about or who we love.
It knows our true substance,
of what we are really made.
I stand my ground on this ground,
this ground which will
recruit us all
to its side.

-Ellie Schoenfeld (The Dark Honey: New and Used Poems, 2009. Duluth: Clover Valley Press)

Well, what do you think?

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Texcoco is the city in Mexico where la Universidad de Chapingo is located and where I will be spending the majority of my time. Here's a little information about the city-

Texcoco, officially Texcoco de Mora, is located in Mexico state and is to the east of Mexico City.

Feet above sea level- 7,380
2005 Census Population- 99,260
Area- 161.66 sq mi

It was originally one of the major cities of the Aztec empire (the second largest behind Tenochtitlan with an estimated 24,000 people) and one of founders of the Triple Alliance. This alliance was composed of three Aztec city-states: Tlacopan, Texcoco and Tenochtitlan. All three cities were defeated by the Cortes his men.

Texcoco is know for its amazing Spanish colonial style architecture including a church built a top pre-Columbian structures.

Once I arrive in Texcoco, I'll be sure to post pictures of the city. I know Diego Rivera has one of his famous murals at la Universidad de Chapingo and you better believe that I'll be checking it out!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What This is All About

This blog is to keep my family, friends, co-workers, Rotary Club members and anyone else updated on what's going on while I'm in Mexico.

For those of you who don't know, last May, I received a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship and now I'm off thanks to Rotary! I am so fortunate and try to promote the scholarship every chance I get. The ambassadorial scholarship is one of Rotary's many efforts to build cross-cultural and international relations of peace through its scholars. The scholarship is also a way for those who have career goals that are "service above self" oriented to continue learning and growing as professionals. While in Mexico I'll be attending local Rotary Club meetings, volunteering, presenting at different events, going on excursions with Rotary and attending grad school class full time. Now lets not forget all the crazy and fun adventures that are to be had, interesting and hospitable (hopefully) people and family to spend time with!

I'll be attending the University of Chapingo in Texcoco, just about an hour away from Mexico City. There are so many things that I love about this school. First of all, la Universidad de Chapingo is an all agriculture university, so whatever anyone studies is directly related to agriculture. It is also situated very interestingly, as being an agricultural university offering alternative, sustainable, organic and native farming classes and at the same time offering conventional large-scale monocropping systems that are dependent on pesticides and chemical use. I was first planning of taking a number of classes from various postgraduate departments, but then I found a program that I loved so much I couldn't help but keep all my classes within this program. While in Mexico, I will be taking the following classes in the Department of Rural Sociology:

Social Development and Organizing Rural Producers
Farmer Cooperatives and Associations in Mexico
Farmer Education and Self-Management
Indigenous Agriculture
Rural Communication
Creation and Evaluation of Agricultural Inversion Projects
Rural Social Movements
Old World and Modern Mexican Mythology

La Universidad de Chapingo is also right next to and works closely with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, a internationally recognized non-profit research and training institution that focuses on the improvement of wheat and maize varieties. This is where Norman Borlaug (from the University of Minnesota where I got my degree) developed his green revolution technology with the hope of ending world hunger but actually contributed to the dissemination of the agriculture industrial complex that has assisted in the depletion of soils on every continent, contamination of water and the demise of the small family farmer among a large list of other global problems.

I am very fortunate and excited to be in such an amazing, unique and historical place like Mexico and la Universidad de Chapingo. I look forward to continuing my journey and invite everyone to learn and maybe even live a little vicariously through this blog.