Day 12 in Oaxaca, Mexico: Reflections
Well as it approaches midnight here in Oaxaca alot is going through my mind. Today's seminar on Susto: A Folk Illness was really interesting. I love how my professor talked about Ataque de Nervios.
According to the discussion we had in class, ataque de nervios is "an idiom of distress particularly among Latinos in the Caribbean, but recognized among many Hispanic groups." When my professor discussed the symptoms that are commonly reported such as "screaming uncontrollably, attacks of crying, trembling, heat in the chest rising into the head, and becoming verbally or physically aggressive" I couldn't help but having a flood of memories hit me harder than I imagined. I'm not going to mention names and I know I'm not of Latino descent but I have experienced ataque de nervios in my personal life. I remember when I would get into bad verbal fights with this person about things such as letting me live my life. This person is overly parnoid and overprotective and I've done nothing but work hard my whole life in school and I keep my GPA over a 3.5. It was frustrating when I would go out with my friends and have a million missed phone calls saying "where are you?" I always told this person where I will be and that I'm safe but I personally felt like a prisoner and trapped because when I go out I would always be nervous and check my phone constantly because I would worry this person would bug me and ask me when I will be home. When I would get home we would get into very bad verbal arguments. After we fought I would go to my room and when that person wasn't home I would go into a rage start throwing things, punching my wall, and crying. I didn't feel like Sofya anymore. When I was in seminar listening to my professor talk about this part of susto I felt like I was reliving the experience all over again because I was sitting in class with anger bottled in my chest. I still hold alot of resentment towards this person but I didn't think those feelings would pop up after a discussion on susto. Don't get me wrong I loved the seminar cause I was able to apply it to things in my life as well as learn more about the Oaxacan culture and this is not to say I was mad the topic was brought up. After seminar I went home read alot and then went to spanish class and honestly I was embarrassed when class finished. The reason I say that is because I found myself stumbling on the conjugations which usually isn't a problem for me but I was stressed cause I was thinking about getting my paper done and how much more reading I had left to do along with fieldwork at CORAL. My spanish teacher wasn't mad at me he told me not to worry and I did correct myself when i found myself messing up but I still felt embarrassed because I was afraid that he would think I don't care about the class and that he might stereotype me as a stupid American or something. I sometimes have a tendency to worry that something I might do by accident might be misinterpretted or offend someone when I'm in another country. Honestly, I guess I have susto in that moment when I worry like this but I am human after all.
Today was pretty exciting I woke up at 9am to go to CORAL and continue working with the children there. I must say that my favorite part of working there is getting to know each child. One child that stood out to me was Ernesto because he was so open,friendly, and full of life. I met him on the first day I went to CORAL but I don't think he was comfortable to interact with me. Surprisingly when me and my friend Ashwini went into the room to observe the therapy session as soon as he saw my face he jumped out of his seat and hugged me tight. I couldn't help but feel so happy inside because I'm glad that he felt comfortable enough to hug me instead of view me as this stranger from another country. As the therapy session went on I couldn't help but notice how Ernesto couldn't speak in coherent sentences and it was hard for me to translate what he was saying cause it sounded like scrambled spanish. It hit me after the session that I forgot that he is deaf and he communicates his spanish better with sign language. I'll admit sign language was hard for me the first time I learned it at CORAL but I found myself to speak better sign language spanish than verbal spanish. I am good at both but I find it not as difficult to do sign language spanish. When I used my sign language spanish with Ernesto I couldn't help but feel a personal satifaction for being able to communicate my thoughts to him and his thoughts to me. I really am starting to feel like Oaxaca is my home away from home and I can't believe in two more weeks I'll be back in the United States. I wish this program were longer.