By SAMANTHA GRISWOLD
managing editor, news
I don’t want to hear the world tortilla again for a very long time, or at least a couple of months. This year, instead of lying in bed, watching Netflix, shoveling Ben and Jerry’s in my face and being a lazy and unproductive human being, I went on a service trip to Merida, Mexico.
I don’t know what I was expecting before I embarked on this trip, but I definitely was not anticipating receiving what I did get out of it.
While in Mexico, we visited the village of Yaxcaba where the Rev. Felix and the people of his parish welcomed us with open arms. We stayed at the church and they took care of us by feeding us three huge meals a day — sometimes more.
My experience in the village was very humbling – Father Felix said that he asked the people of Yaxcaba to help out when we came to visit and they did so willingly and wholeheartedly.
While our time in the village was, I think, crucial to a full understanding of the situation in Mexico, our main purpose was to spend time with the girls at Nueva Vida, the after- school program that’s run by the Mission de Amistad.
Our last two days were spent getting to know the girls at the program who ranged in age from first to sixth grade. We ate lunch with the girls and they got to practice some of their English and we got to practice some of our Spanish.
We also completed service projects at the mission, like giving a wall a fresh coat of paint, organizing the storage shed, cleaning weeds from the sidewalk and reinstalling a screen on a door.
Our last day at Nueva Vida was spent giving an English lesson to the girls, which we based on a book called “Beautiful Hands.”
We read them the book in English and then had them trace their hands on colored paper, then glue them onto a big poster with the words “What will your beautiful hands do today?” in both English and Spanish.
I never realized how ignorant I actually was until this trip. Previously, I hadn’t really thought much of Mexico, and when I did, I imagined people living in huts with no electricity or water.
There are definitely people who still live like that in rural Mexico, but these people are just like us.
They ride in buses and drive cars just like we do. They go to school and have jobs just like we do. The little girls at Nueva Vida loved playing with each other, chatting away and playing schoolyard games, just like American children do.
Contrary to what our government might be trying to make you believe, people from other countries are deserving of just as much respect and regard as Americans are.
I’m not a mushy-gushy person, but I was touched by my experiences in Mexico. Who knows? Maybe after a couple more of these trips, it’ll be enough to melt my ice-cold heart.