Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

So to the few, if any who are reading this, I am sorry for neglecting my blog. Between Rotary, school, family, friends and events, I have been more than busy.

Rotary: I have now visited and/or presented at the three Rotary clubs here in Texcoco. I am working with the clubs to see what is needed to send an Ambassadorial Scholar from Mexico abroad. In mid-October, I will start my service work on a number of sustainable development projects with the Texcoco de Gante Club. As I travel to different cities and states I am looking forward to setting up meetings with the local club members.

School: My classes are going well and I am learning a lot about the history and current situation of rural Mexico from my readings, lectures, classmates who mostly come from small pueblos from all over the country, the newspaper and various farmer conferences/events held here at Chapingo.

A few days ago I returned from a week trip to the City of Oaxaca, 6 hours south of Texcoco. I attended the 3rd Annual International Rural Development Conference along with professors and undergraduate students from Rural Sociology. People came from Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, United States, Venezuela and France to attend the conference. It was a great way to learn about a number of rural issues happening across the world such as cooperative building, effects of immigration on women left behind in their home countries, international marketing of various traditional food products and the effects of NAFTA. I’m excited to continue learning and hopefully a great topic will surge for my final papers. I’d love to research and write about a topic that includes gender, immigration to the United States and rural agriculture if possible.

Family: Little by little I am making sure to contact and visit my family here in Mexico. I haven’t seen everyone yet, but I have plenty of time to visit each family. A few weeks ago, I spent my birthday weekend with a few of my aunts and cousins. My little cousins Belen and Adrian continue to take care of the broccoli, cilantro and pepper sprouts we planted together. I feel so fortunate to have them here because each moment we spend together, we get to know one another more and more.

In general things are going very well. The only thing I’ve noticed is that I am having a difficult time managing a balanced life. There are so many great opportunities every day which I want to take advantage of, but I think I have to do a better job of making sure I don’t get too crazy and get involved in too many things. It’s very important to have time for myself and to live a relaxed life in which I can take the time needed to process my experiences and build strong relationships. Keeping this in mind, I also know that I have been here a little over a month and that this process of finding balance takes time.

(The picture is of the cows that pass in front of my window every morning. A perfect example of my class entitled Nueva Ruralidad, in which we argue that the there are no lines between rural and urban, the city and the countryside. Each influence one another and are inseparable. Exactly this picture.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My First Official Rotary Meeting

Last night I had my first official Rotary meeting here in Texcoco with the Texcoco de Gante Club. When I was first told that their meeting started at 9:30, I thought they were joking! They weren't.

The club is the younger of the two clubs here in Texcoco and is made up of all men. Not feeling comfortable with a group of men I don't know, in a place I've never been at 9:30 at night made me a bit uptight and nervous for the first part of the gathering. Then each member kindly introduced themselves to me and each welcomed me to my new home. As the meeting went on, the server brought us beer, whiskey, vodka, tequila, soft drinks, appetizer, grilled onions and tacos...which of course I didn't mind. Little by little I began to realize that I had stepped into an informal and relaxed meeting of friends where I am welcomed and safe.

The meeting that ended at midnight went very well and I am so excited to start getting involved with the Texcoco de Gante Club which is known throughout Mexico and internationally among Rotary members for their excellent work in community service. Some of their service projects include providing wheelchairs to people in need, reforestation and conservation of important water sources, providing families with solar-powered stoves, rain water catchment systems and holding tanks (which I also worked on in Ecuador) and water purification systems. Their idea with all of these projects is to focus on building sustainable communities...right up my alley!

Tonight I have first formal meeting with the other Texcoco club, one of the oldest clubs in Mexico. I will also be stopping at the Rotaract club of Texcoco which meets Friday nights and is made up of 20-30 year olds.