The time that I first heard about the J-term trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico was last year. However, by the time I wanted to apply, they told me that I was too late for it. So for this year I wanted to make sure that I apply on time to make sure I’ll be able to go. The following is my insight on the trip and of what it meant to me.
To simply put, the Cuernava trip was an eye-opening, heart breaking at the same time healing and overall a great experience. At first I didn’t really know what to expect except that we would learn about social justice. Little did I know that in addition to lecture type days, we would also visit these places that we talk about and have opportunities to see and experience for ourselves the conditions they live in. We visited the poorest of the poor, ranging from the people that live next to abandoned train tracks to the people who live high up in the mountain–so far away from modern technology and only having wooden stcks for their walls. These days of visiting the poor and the very unfortunate were the heart breaking days for me. I felt so bad, guilty and ashamed knowing that there are so many people in the world, or specifically in the US that take even the most basic of things for granted. These people that we visited often did not even have bathrooms: the people in the mountain often had to do their number 1 or 2 outside where often they did not have water; many others only had a room for 9-12 of their children and family members. Yet there are the many of us who complain if we don’t have a tv in our room or if we don’t have a big enough room. The point is, we are awfully spoiled with the things that we have and we are so selfish for continously wanting way more while there are others who live in communities like Cuernava who has nothing. My heart breaks when I see that while I live so comfortably in my community, there are others who barely survive their everyday struggles. I question with anger, WHY?! Why does the government ignore the poor?! Why is the average salary $5 a day?! Why are families struggling and no one helps them?! Is there no more human compassion, love or even concern? My heart is overwhelmed when I think about the poor and the people who suffer poverty or prejudice, but is slowly healed and given hope when I see the small groups of people trying to make a difference.
In addition to being exposed to the very hard lifestyle of the poor is our experience with hope. We visited an orphanage home in which children are given love and taken cared of. This home gives them the opportunity to attend schools and even college. This day was a very rewarding day for many of us as we gave away children’s books, read to them and played with them. Another rewarding activity that we did was give out bread and coffee to the people visiting their families at the hospital, but because they are poor and often times have to travel so far away–they stay and sleep on the entrance to the hospital. The wonderful thing about this is the group that we worked with were from a gay community. These people experienced the most horrible experiences of prejudice and hate, yet they are the ones who reach out to help and comfort the people of desperation (at the hospital) by holding a prayer with them and providing them with bread and coffee. These activity was very emotional and very memorable to me–It touched me that while there are so many people who do evil things to others, people are willing to get passed that and in turn do angelic things.
As you can see, I really loved my trip to Cuernava this year. Not only did I learn so much about social injustice/justice, I also got to enjoy the awesome weather averaging to 80 degrees daily. I love the place we stayed in… ladies if you love to tan- use the front lawn, or maybe by the time you go his pool on top of his roof will be done by then :)… Gerardo, your host/program coordinator is an amazing man to meet because he had done some really great things in life (ask him about his movie :) ).
So overall I really loved my trip/experiences with the J-term trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico. I hope you all decide to have this experience of a lifetime and truly take into heart everything you learn from it.