Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 22: Returning Home From Oaxaca
I still am processing the fact that I'm back in New Jersey but its a bittersweet feeling. I'm happy that I'm home here in my own bed but at the same time I'm sad because I miss my host mom and the city of Oaxaca. I feel like I got used to speaking Spanish around my mom and the town that my brain didn't register that I will not be living in Oaxaca for the rest of the summer. I found myself stumbling on simple English words when speaking with my family at home and my friends, which was very embarrassing. I'm really happy that I'm bilingual again because I used to speak Italian fluently until high school ended and I stopped talking to my cousins back in Italy. I feel that Spanish is a very useful language that everyone in the United States should know because there is a large population of Latino immigrants especially in New Jersey. I'm so blessed that I had the opportunity to live in Oaxaca for a month with my wonderful host mother Socorro, take a medical anthropology class, take a sign language class ,and most importantly learn Spanish a. I'm also grateful to the wonderful staff at CORAL for letting me sit in and observe the therapies and participate with the children. I already miss those cute faces of Luis Jesus, Ernesto, and Angel. Once I feel more comfortable with Spanish I will return to Oaxaca and definitely do my masters thesis for global public health.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 21 in Oaxaca, Mexico: The Last Night
I can't believe its already July 7th and I'm finished packing all my clothes and souvenirs. I can't even describe the emotions I'm feeling right now. I'm really sad that I'm leaving but at the same time I feel ready to go home because I miss my house in the United States, my family, and my friends. This trip was a completely life changing experience and I couldn't have had it any other way. My experience working in CORAL have motivated me to continue to pursue my masters in global public health and return to Oaxaca and not only help the children at CORAL but all the people in Oaxaca. I definently enjoyed all the excursions but my favorite one was going to Teotitlan and learning about the Women's Weaving Cooperative. I really wished that me and the group went to Tehuantepec because it was interesting when my professor talked about how women run the markets and how society there has a deep appreciation for women which some people find stunning. The reason I found it interesting was because that society is open to different sexualities like homosexuals. I would have loved to go into town to interview some of the women there and the other locals to understand more of why they appreciate women so much and are open to other sexualities. In other words, tonight me and the group are going to go out for dessert and enjoying the zocolo one last time before heading to the states. Adios Oaxaca! Hola Estados Unidos!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 20 in Oaxaca, Mexico: 4th of July
Well its 4th of July and I have to say that it went very well. I admit that I am upset that I didn't get to see fireworks with my friends back at home cause that's the tradition we usually have every year but there is always next year. At the same time, I feel very homesick and I think that as it gets closer and closer to departure from Oaxaca the more I miss my family and friends back at home. I love Oaxaca a lot, the people are friendly, and I like the people in my group but I just feel that I'm ready to go back home and spend time with my family again. This whole experience here in Oaxaca was very life changing for me because I immersed myself in the culture by living with my wonderful host mom Socorro and speaking Spanish with her on a daily basis. I had a conversation with my host mom yesterday and I asked her if she would miss me a lot and she said in Spanish that she would and that she considers me her daughter. Its very tough right now because even though I love Oaxaca and wish the program was a little more than a month I do miss my home in New Jersey. I will make these next four days memorable and make them last as much as I possibly can before I leave for the states.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 19 in Oaxaca, Mexico: Reflections about the Trip
Well I can't believe its July 3rd and in about 8 days I will be back in New Jersey. Personally, I feel like this month went very fast and I feel like Oaxaca is my home away from home. I really liked all the excursions me and the group went on but my favorite was Benito Juarez since I got to zip line across the mountain. I'm definitely going to miss my host mom's cooking and when she asks me and my roommates what time we want breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I really want to thank my host mom for treating me as if I was her daughter and not just another exchange student. I really enjoyed having my own room on the roof and waking up every morning to a beautiful sunrise and sunset. Also, I am going to miss the children and staff at CORAL, I had alot of fun observing and participating in the therapies because I got to bond with the children and I got to practice my spanish. Also, I want to thank Amigos del Sol for giving me a wonderful teacher Estaban. I learned alot from him and he was willing to answer all my questions if I found myself getting confused with any new material. I definently will reccommend this trip to any of friends who are younger than me because this is a great experience and very memorable. I love Oaxaca!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 18 in Oaxaca, Mexico: Reflections on Benito Juarez
I still am finding it hard to process that yesterday is the last excursion before we all go home. I feel like this month went way too fast and I wish the program was extended for a little longer. Yesterday was absolutely amazing! Personally, I think Benito Juarez was the best excursion out of all the ones me and my group went on. I got to zipline through the mountain which I never thought in a million years I would do. I'm not afraid of heights but I remember my mother telling me before I went on the trip not to zipline because she doesn't want me to jeporadize my life. Well, I did it and it wasn't scary at all I felt very safe doing it. I will admit that I am proud of myself for ziplining because you only live once and I didn't want to regret not trying it. Another part of the excursion I liked was walking up the mountain because I saw the nopale cactuses that my host mother makes in her soup. It was very beautiful observing these plants that are full of vitamins and tasty. I also loved looking at the scenery with the mountains in the background. Personally, I love taking pictures of mountains and I think it has become my new hobby. After, me and my group ziplined we had a nice lunch as always, beef with a red mole sauce, rice, and soup. I wish the day lasted longer but I'm definently going to make my last week the best before I head home to the United States.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 17 in Oaxaca, Mexico: Reflections on Fundacion Oaxaquena de Equinoterapia Conference
I truly believe yesterday was one of the most interesting and insightful. Me, my group, and my professor went to the Fundacion Oaxaquena de Equinoterapia to hear the founder and people helping with the program talk about what Equinoterapia is, how it started, and what its purpose is. One of my roommates here works there and I'll be honest the only thing I knew about Equinotherapia was that it was to help kids with spinal problems. My roommate described it to me as "the child gets on the horse and when they ride the horse it stimulates nerves in the spinal cord which help straighten their back." It sounded interesting but I didnt think that's what it was all about and the conference yesterday helped clarify what it was. Before I explain what Equinotherapia is I just want to say I'm proud of myself for understanding more than half the conversation because all the translating gave me a headache. So Equinotherapia, also known as equine assistance therapy and riding lessons the disabled,  is the use of horse and equine-oriented activities to achieve a variety of therapeutic goals, including, physical, emotional, mental, social, educational and behavioral problems.  The physical benefits of walking equinotherapy come from the horse, resembles the natural human gait. There is no machines used for this process. Most riders develop muscle tone, better flexibility and range of motion.
Honestly, my favorite part of the conference was learning about integration. A psychologist who was explaining his experience observing children with a range of disabilities mentioned having an atmosphere with children who are deaf, blind, and other problems heal together instead of seperating each child by disability. I agree with the psychologist but the problem is finding staff who are trained in all areas to work with these kids. I know if I was trained in all of those fields I would have done it hands down. Another part of the conference I found interesting was how these children with disabilities were discriminated against. I work at CORAL which is a rehabilitation center for children who are deaf and it made me think about how these kids must experience some form of discrimination since they can't hear. Personally, its disappointing that teachers of all the people would discriminate against children as young as three of four years old because they can't hear, see, or whatever disability they have. In my opinion, if you don't have any patience whatsoever you should not be a teacher.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 16 in Oaxaca,Mexico Reflections on Cooking Class Yesterday and CORAL
Well I just got home from CORAL and I feel very productive. Today I did alot of paperwork inventory on the children at the clinic and observed more therapies. Honestly, I love Wednesdays at CORAL because I get to participate with my favorite kids Ernesto and Angel. These boys are so sweet and adorable. When they were crying today during their session I managed to use my spanish to tell them to listen to the woman conducting the therapy and that I promised I would participate with them in the next half of the therapy. The boys surprisingly listened and the moms who were observing the therapy were impressed that I was able to calm their boys down. I can't help it I love kids they are just too precious. Besides CORAL, yesterday was a blast! I came home from CORAL to find my classmates and my professor at my host mom's house for cooking class. We made "Sopa de Azteca"(Aztec Soup) and "Tacos Durado." Those dishes are personally my favorite because my host mom made it a couple times at the house. Sopa Azteca is consisted of tomatoes, garlic, and onions, tortillas, and guacamole. Its one of the tastiest soups I have ever had and its so much better than the ordinary chicken noodle soup. Tacos durado is chicken folded into a tortilla flour then fried on a pan topped with guacamole and purple cabbage. I swear this dish is to die for it makes the tacos at taco bell look terrible. I personally can't stand fast food in the United States cause it makes me sick and its too processed. After me and my classmates made the soup and the tacos we did eat it together and it was amazing! To top it off I got to try chapulines, grasshoppers, and it tasted better than expected. I recall one of my classmates saying that chapulines tasted terrible but I liked the crunchy texture the only thing I didn't really like was that it was very salty but overall it was awesome! After we ate the dishes my host mom gave us the recipes for us to take home to make for our families. I can't wait to make these for my parents when I get home! Things just keep getting better and better!