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.