Sunday, October 25, 2009


Wanna talk about borders, lets look at it from another angle....

This clip gives a pretty good idea of one of the many stereotypes Mexicans have about Americans my age, can you blame them? Unfortunately, or better yet fortunately, confronting U.S. stereotypes is one of my daily activities.

Mexico Builds Border Walls to Keep Out U.S. Assholes

You are what you eat

The future of food? click on link.

I like this picture because its a great depiction of the some of the main fast foods restaurants here in Mexico, but it's missing Burger King and of course...........McDonalds.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Things That I Miss...

My family,
Rosco and Chamaco,
having a # of lakes within walking distance from my home,
the farm,
the woods,
the Mississippi River,
hiking and camping in the state parks,
Midtown Global Market,
going to the field and picking what's ripe for dinner,
the sole sound of bird, bees and the wind,
South Minneapolis,
good sushi,
live hip-hop,
wearing skirts without having "men" stare,
biking everywhere,
Mill City Farmers Market,
Madison Farmers Market,
Thai food,
sleeping in front of my parent's fireplace,
watching my little brother breakdance,
green and black's organic chocolate
maple syrup
wisconsin cheese and wine

Monday, October 19, 2009

Finding A Little Piece of Mind

I finally feel like I have just started to find a little piece of mind and tranquility.

My first two months here were crazy. I probably shouldn't be telling you that, but it is true. Is it really thatttt surprising? All by myself (well I have my family close by) in a different country, with new food, new lifestyles, cultural norms, personalities, well.... basically different everything. While Mexican culture is not new to me, I have never expierenced it in this way. I wanted to take everything in at once and to the fullest, the tastes, feelings and experiences... It was all so tempting. So many new things to learn, so many people to meet, so many things to try.

At the same time that this was all happening, I of course was also was experiencing a number of challenges. Lack of punctuality and respect for meetings, not eating lunch or eating lunch at 3pm, not being with the people I love and the double meanings of EVERTHING anyone says. Put those things together and you have a strong woman who has just transformed into a feather that never touches the ground, being pushed and pulled by even the slightest gust of wind.

Finally realizing this, I decided that I couldn't continue with this lifestyle and be truly happy. That in order to really do what I came here to do, learn with all my heart and mind and server others, I needed to be strong and grounded. I sat down and wrote all my goals for my time here in Mexico, I wrote down who I am along with all the things I care about most and I posted them on my wall in my room. They are still here in my, helping me stay true to myself.

Since I decided to take better care of myself and ground myself in who I am, I have been much more at ease and less crazy. I have obviously started to write more, I've been reading more, I've even done some painting. I love my classes and school is an amazing challenge that I love accepting every day.

I feel like every moment I am learning something new that is helping me become a more thoughtful, patient and loving person. After realizing this VERY important detail, I wondered why I felt this way more strongly here in Mexico than back home. While back home, you all know I am very passionate and motivated about my work, I am even more so here. Almost over the top, for example when I get frustrated with myself when I don't understand everything right away or I can't pronounce things perfectly. Maybe I'm like this right now because I feel so fortunate to have this amazing opportunity offered to me and I want to get the most out of it. But the reality is that we are offered an amazing opportunity every day and we often take it for granted. It is so true that we create our own reality.

I finally feel like I'm more grounded, that I'm me again and not a little feather in the wind. There are still a number of challenges I'm facing and I know there is much to learn, but the important thing is that I am stronger. Instead of trying to spend all my time figuring out what the heck is going internally and externally, I can now focus on cultivating awareness.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Greatest Think You'll Ever Learn

Is just to love and be loved in return.

La Frontera

I wish I had my favorite book here with me in Mexico, Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua. While I always seem to go back to it, once again, I find it fitting for what I am living today. Her book explores the realities of Chicanas, whom live simultaneously in two places, cultures and languages, creating our own third "borderland" world. I picked two quotes from Anzaldua's book to give you an idea of what I mean by it being so fitting for what I'm living today-

"I had to leave home so I could find myself, find my own intrinsic nature buried under the personality that had been imposed on me." (38)


"The U.S. Mexican border es una herida abierta (an open wound) where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country---a border culture." (25)

Obviously the two important themes of these quotes, identity and the intimate and complicated relationship between our two countries is something that is of great concern to me and is close to my heart. It is one of the main reason I choose Mexico as my country of study for my scholarship. In order to help heal the wounds of prejudice and exploitation between our two countries we have to listen to one another with loving kindness.

Anzaldua writes of the challenges and beautiful opportunities of being in this in between land we Chicanas find ourselves in. I highly suggest this book, but not for those who are unfamiliar with Spanish as the book constantly flows between Spanish and English. As I continue on my journey here in Mexico, I am also continuing to grow my "borderland" culture and identity that will always inform the way I feel, the things I value and the decisions I make. I am thankful for being fortunate enough to have the Mexican and American cultures form the physical and immaterial bridge that I am today as I am thankful for the opportunity given to my by Rotary to grow in this way.

A Good Food Manifesto for America

A man after my own heart...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wait for it.........

I hope to have some thought and action provoking posts coming up! Remember, while you might find it difficult to connect my posts directly to my Ambassadorial scholarship, they are related. This scholarship is about foster international relationships of peace, goodwill and service, about breaking down the barriers of fear, stereotypes and violence in the hopes of creating and living alternatives. All my posts have to do with these things. Personally, professionally and through this scholarship, I am intending to learning and working to break down all those barriers and build alliances that contribute to the well being of our communities (not just in the U.S., but our global community as well-we need to think outside the political boundaries that set us up to perpetuate violence). Of course I hope you know that I greatly would appreciate your comments, advice and thoughts.

More posts are coming up!

Service to our Global Community

The University of Chapingo is one of two public universities in Mexico where each and every student enters with a full scholarship to cover the costs of their education. HA! Imagine, free education for students! What would it be like to not have to pay back thousands of dollars after graduation? Unfortunately many of us in the U.S. don't have the luxury of knowing what that would be like. The idea behind Chapingo was to create a center of higher education focused on agriculture available for those students, many who come from rural and low-income backgrounds, from the pueblos of Mexico. In order to make this education accessible, the federal government passes a yearly budget for the complete funding of Chapingo. This year, the government's funding for education was drastically cut, sound familiar?

Well anyways, now to the point of my story........Yesterday I went my roommate Marta's thesis defense. I watched her present her research and get a number of questions thrown at her by her professors. After all of the hard questions and the stress, Marta, her friends and I walked to a special room where the professor officially declared her as graduated. As part of the ceremony, Marta had to hold her arm out and repeat the following,

Juro por mi honor: Honrar y respetar, siempre y en todo lugar, a la Universidad Autónoma Chapingo; ofrecer de mi profesión todos mis conocimientos y experiencia al servicio y beneficio de la sociedad y del desarrollo sustentable de mi país entero, y de manera gratuita en situaciones de emergencia y desastre nacional; defender firmemente los derechos de las personas y de las instituciones; enaltecer con mis actos la profesión y el título o grado que ostento. Asimismo, de faltar a un desempeño ético y a un comportamiento profesional coherente con él, que se haga de mi conocimiento y que la sociedad, la comunidad científica y la Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, me lo reclamen

Which translates to.....

I swear: to honor and respect, always and everywhere, the University of Chapingo; to offer my profession knowledge and experience in service and in benefit to society and to the sustainable development of the whole country, and to offer my services free of charge in situations of emergency and national disasters; strongly defend the rights of the people and institutions; to enhance with my professional actions and title I have received. Likewise, to preform ethically and with coherent professional action that society, the scientific community and the University of Chapingo demand of me.

Sitting there, hearing her pledge to serve her country and community made me feel uncomfortable. Not because she was pledging to do something great and amazing for this world, but because I am positive that she is not fully equipped and educated to do what she pledges to do. Before every student graduates from Chapingo, they must say those words, but from my observations, the university does not take the proper steps to make sure that this pledge materializes. Chapingo was built to educate and create rural citizens who will return to their communities to contribute to the well being of the country. As I see it, Chapingo is a factory (like most universities) that produces middle-class to upper class (not necessarily true anymore), "average" and apathetic citizens who have been "educated" and believe that they know more the the common person. This is a strong statement, but if you think about it, more and more people are becoming formally educated through the university systems at the same time that we are accelerating self-destruction and destruction of everything around us. Local languages, cultures and knowledge are fading away. Technology is advancing so much quicker than the knowledge we have of ourselves.

I see that Chapingo produces the majority, if not all, of the bureaucrats found in government programs and institutions. Are students returning to their pueblos to really make a positive difference? I don't think so. They are staying in administrative positions in the cities because the countryside has nothing to offer them but poverty. The funny thing is that most of these students are the same people who are perpetuating the destruction of Mexican agriculture and rural life. Three of my four housemates who graduated from Chapingo work in government agriculture programs that promote the the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and the almost unrestricted importation of genetically modified agricultural products such as corn in soybean, which is putting the +55 native corn varieties in grave danger.

Mexico has gone from being an almost completely self-sufficient and producing country to an almost 100% import country and under whom? Mostly graduates from Chapingo.

Chapingo, like all universities, has the extremely important responsibility of creating socially responsible graduates who have been educated to make appropriate and good decisions. By the time we graduate, we should also have had several community service experiences and the right tools to know how to appropriately interact in our communities without imposing our own ways of thinking. Trained in community service through listening, bringing diverse groups together for a common cause and facilitating, not running the show as "experts" in our field. Chapingo does not have any requirements or classes that demand this of their students. How can my housemate Marta or anyone else feel confident about truly serving their community when the university itself does not put a priority on this?

As students we should be aware of this and ask for such skill building to be offered in required in our classes, as educators we should always keep this in mind in our lesson plans and as community members we should ask for the involvement of our local educational institutions.

As a recent university graduate, I do not feel fully equipped to be a responsible professional in service to my global community and this is one of the biggest reasons I applied for the Ambassadorial Scholarship. I am hoping that through my experience here in Mexico and with Rotary, I will be closer to this goal. No matter who we are or where we are, we should always be thinking of how we can contribute to the well being of our global community. Are we helping our situation or contributing to the hole we keep digging deeper and deeper?

Luz y Fuerza

Photo: Over 150 thousand people crowded the streets of Mexico City (at the famous Angel of Independence and the Plaza of the Constitution) yesterday in support of the Union of Mexican Electricians. Other sources report over 300 thousand (More people than the biggest march in D.C. against the war in Iraq). There were also a number of reported protests in over 10 of the 32 Mexican states. Photo taken from

On Sunday President Felipe Caldero closed the state-owned electrical company, Luz y Fuerza. Since then, Mexico has gone wild with thousands of Mexican families without power, protests, closing down of streets and a strong polarization between those citizens who support the President's actions and those who don't.

A number of my friends and professors are in complete opposition to what the president did. They believe it completely unjust to put thousands of people out of employment and say that this is the government's way of replacing state-owned companies and services with private businesses. Others believe that this is part of the government's efforts to create fear and militarize the country. Some are happy with Calderon's decision and say that they are glad the he FINALLY did what should have been done long ago to those corrupt unions that function poorly and inefficiently. They say that the unions are a huge burden on the state and tax payers.

Either way, this is something very serious and has created an uproar in all corners in the country. Mexico is at the point of exploding with all the violence, corruption, apathy and injustice that has taken over. Will this fate continue or will the citizens stand up and say no more to these conditions? Will all of us, not just Mexico, stand up and say "NO MORE"!?

Thousands March In Mexico Against Closure Of State Utility

(This article was originally published Thursday, taken from
By Paul Kiernan

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Members of the Mexican Electricians Union, or SME, gathered by the thousands in downtown Mexico City Thursday to march in protest of the government's decision to shut down state-owned power utility Luz y Fuerza del Centro.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon decreed the closure of LFC on Sunday, citing chronic inefficiencies, labor liabilities, and operating losses that require hefty transfers from the federal government.

LFC's operations have been taken over by the larger state utility, Comision Federal de Electricidad, or CFE.

Despite the government's offer to pay laid off LFC workers an average of 2.5 years of salary in severance, the 44,000 workers and 22,000 retirees represented by the SME are seeking to undo the decree.

Victor Maldonado, 50, a union member from nearby Puebla state, said the closure of LFC leaves him with few options for future employment due to his age.

"Who's going to hire me now?" Lopez said, adding that he worked for the utility for 25 years.

Nestor Lopez, 47, said that the severance package - about 200,000 pesos ($15,290) in his case - is insufficient and that he won't accept it.

"I have five children; I didn't plan for this," Lopez said.

Other groups, including the miners and social security workers unions, joined the roughly two-mile march of tens of thousands along the capital's Reforma Avenue to the Zocalo, the city's main square.

Union members were joined by their families and friends, while spectators, student groups and food vendors further swelled the crowd.

Some protesters carried banners; others chanted slogans against Calderon or the CFE; while others sported Che Guevara paraphernalia and the occasional swine flu mask.

City authorities diverted traffic from the march route and suspended an open-air book fair being held in the Zocalo until Monday.

Surveys published in recent days by local newspapers showed that more people support the decision to shut LFC than oppose it, with about half in favor, around 40% against, and the rest without an opinion.

Private sector groups have enthusiastically backed the measure, while leftist political groups have decried the decision.

According to government data, LFC had twice as many complaints per thousand customers as the CFE, and lost a third of the electricity it distributed to inefficient distribution and theft, compared with 11% for CFE.

"Its operating costs nearly doubled its income," Calderon said.

-By Paul Kiernan, Dow Jones Newswires; (5255)5001-5726,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An Amazing Breakfast

(The picture has nothing to do with my story. This is a picture of one of the buildings at my school, how beautiful, no?)

You are not going to believe what just happened!

So today I went to this place down the street from my house where I go to eat frequently. The ladies that work there are very nice. I love to talk to them and the food they cook is great and cheap. I went there today for breakfast like I do maybe once or twice a week. I noticed a man sitting there with a jacket that says, "Correos de Mexico" (the Mexican mail) on the back of it, then I look out the window and I see his motorcycle with mail baskets overflowing with mail. I sat there for a little bit thinking, "Hmmm.....I wonder if he could give me some information about my missing mail?" I have been waiting for over a month now for mail from my family and my boyfriend Miguel. Then I thought, "Nooo, hes eating right now, I wont bother him."

Later he got up and was getting ready to leave, so I decided it was a good chance to approach him and ask him if he knew of my missing mail. He told me to write down my name and address and from where I was expecting my mail. As soon as I started writing my name, he quickly left and came back with a card from Miguel! He told me he has had a box and two cards of mine for a number of weeks now. Unfortunately he had just sent back a birthday card from my parents saying my address could not be located. He was just going to do the same thing today with my box and card from Miguel. Tomorrow I will receive the box I've been waiting for for so long!

I guess the problem is that since my house does not have a mail box or PO Box I will never get my mail if someone isn't home to answer the door when the mailman knocks. How horrible. So what I did was ask the ladies at the restaurant down the street if they could please receive my mail when it comes in and I'll pick it up when I come to eat breakfast. Of course being the great women the are, they said yes.

If I had decided not to go to breakfast today, or if I had gone later, I would have missed the mailman! If I had decided not to ask him, I would have never gotten my mail! What a glorious day!

It is these little daily coincidences that help everything work out. This isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened here. I have found various connections between people back home and here, incidents that have allowed me to find my way back home, to catch the right bus or to meet just the right person. I am thankful for going to eat breakfast today at the restaurant down the street at the same time as the mailman as I am grateful for all the little mishaps and events that have happened and for all the willing people who have taken a few minutes of their time to help me.

These are things that bring joy into our lives and remind us that we are interconnected and that everything has a way of figuring itself out. What an amazing way to start off my day!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Lesson from Netzahualcoyotl

Throughout my years I am learning many insightful and personal lessons, as I assume and hope most of us continue all our lives. I have been trying to connect various feelings and thoughts to better understand why we have the today's world situation and what my role is within it. So many things have surged here in Mexico from my conversations, relationships, readings, observations etc.

Today I went to the Baths of Netzahualcoyotl, an archeological site from 15th century Aztec empire. This site, 10 minutes outside of Texcoco, is not well known and is somewhat hidden here in Mexico. The site is build on a mountainside and contains a number of baths, fountains and gardens where king Netzahualcoyotl and his kingdom retreated to relax. Disbursed around the ruins you find occasional signs with poetry written by king Netzahualcoyotl, also known as one of Mexico's greatest poets. Here is one of his poems:

Yo lo pregunto

Yo Nezahualcóyotl lo pregunto:
¿Acaso de veras se vive con raíz en la tierra?
Nada es para siempre en la tierra:
Sólo un poco aquí.
Aunque sea de jade se quiebra,
Aunque sea de oro se rompe,
Aunque sea plumaje de quetzal se desgarra.
No para siempre en la tierra:
Sólo un poco aquí.

I ask him

I ask Netzahualcoyotl:
Is it true that one lives with roots in the earth (or only here on earth)?

Nothing if forever on this earth:
We are only here temporarily.
While its jade it splits,
While its gold it breaks,
Wile its a quetzal feather, it rips,
Nothing is forever on this earth:
We are only here temporarily.

The reason I am pointing this out in relation to the many life lessons I have been learning is that the King Netzahualcoyotl knew something very important that we have forgotten today, that we, along with everything else, are perishable and temporary, that we are a part of this world (and have not and will not surpass it) and part of the nature we inhabit. Could this disconnect that we have today be the reason that we now wage war for the economic benefit of our country, that we exploit and kill our workers and environment across the world in the name of profit margins, that we no longer eat food but composites of derivatives of food? We have completely disconnected ourselves with the earth from which we have come and from the reality that we are tiny specks of nothing in the life cycle and existence of this world. We are part of the earth, not owners of it.

Why do we think it is ok to continually take and take from the earth? Societies once took from where there was excess and gave where there was need. We have let the insatiable huger of our egos take over. The joke is that once you permit this to happen, your ego is never satisfied, it wants more, at whatever cost. This has lent the development of our world today to abusive transnational corporations, to the industrialization of the agro-food system and to the deep disconnect of real and profound relationships with one another and with nature.

I'm not going to make any conclusions with this, but rather leave it open for you to think about an explore.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize!

Today President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, not so much for his accomplishments in his short time in office but according to the Nobel Prize Committee, "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples".

A number of people in the United States, including President Obama himself, along with some from the international community believe that his actions are not deserving to be considered among the efforts and actions of those such as Nelson Mandela, Wangari Maathai and Mother Teresa. I look at this action by the committee not so much as a recognition of his physical accomplishments but a recognition of the Obama's extraordinary feat of changing the tone and mindset of the way our nation interacts with our global neighbors from a conquistador coyboy mindset to mindful and grassroots oriented diplomacy.

While President Obamas nomination comes as a surprise to the whole world, I see this as a hopeful and inspiring encouragement, or rather a push to our president, to the people of the United States and those worldwide to create action from the hope and promise Obama has renewed in us. I feel so happy and fortunate to be part of all the amazing historical events our president has created.

Things in our world need to change, they need to change drastically and they need to change now. A quote by the philisopher J. Krishnamurti (thanks to a friend who recently introduced me to him) is very fitting for our situation, ¨It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society¨ and that is what we are living in today, a profoundly sick society. We all have talents, abilities and strengths that we need to utilized to get involved and start changing our sick society into a healthy and peaceful one for all people. This isn´t a utopian way of thinking, if we don´t change our personal actions, our values, our ways of thinking and our relationships, we will continue to contribute to the destruction of ourselves, nature and this world.

The Nobel Peace Prize that Obama won is for all of us. Its a call to action to make a difference. He can´t and won´t do it alone.

I hope you all see this as an honor and a responsibility to strengthen your relationships in a positive way with those around you, those who are miles and oceans away, with nature, with yourself and with everything around you. Its time to reenchant ourselves with the world, respect it and do something to finally start giving back to it after continually taking and taking.