Hey there Travellers!
Welcome to the blog I have created as a supplement to your explorations in class. This is a space for me to share with you information about travel as well as a place to post stories about issues about the places we will be travelling together. Check back from time to time to see updates on current events, history, taking good photographs, learning Spanish and more!
One issue that has been in the news a lot lately with regard to the Trump presidency in the United States is DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This program was implemented by the Obama administration to protect the otherwise illegal immigration status of minors who were brought into the US illegally. The largest group of people effected are those from Latin America (which includes El Salvador). They are currently in limbo, waiting to see if a disjointed Congress can come up with a replacement that will provide for their protection. Otherwise these people (often referred to as ‘Dreamers’) will be deported.
However, hundreds of thousands of other immigrants in the United States are protected under TPS (Temporary Protected Status). These are people from seven who gained protected status after disasters in their home countries forced people to flee. There are currently over 200,000 Salvadorians in the United States with this status. The renewal for this program is due in March of next year and many are predicting the current administration will not renew it which could lead to the deportation from the United States of these people.
CNN- The next DACA
*Should ‘Dreamers’ be given protected status in the US indefinitely and given a path to citizenship?
*Should those under TPS be protected or should they be deported?
*What about the ethics of immigration in general- should countries be forced to accept immigrants from other countries? Is there a good argument for open boarders between countries?
*How does immigration connect to issues of global justice and inequality?
Liberation Theology, a Roman Catholic ideology that uses spiritual grounds to support socio-economic equality has it’s roots in El Salvador and Latin America and has become a more common term used in the media recently with the election of Pope Francis who embodies Liberation theology in his speeches and political views. Check out this article in the Economist that explores the recent surge in Liberation Theology.
‘A New Sort of Radical’ Article
How do you think a pope like Francis might influence political policies that favor the poor?
When travelling in the developing world and particularly in Latin America, it is important to consider the reciprocal nature of global wealth distribution. In other words, for some in the world to be rich, others must be poor. Naomi Klein explores the details of this relationship in the Latin American context.
Check out this Time Magazine interview with Naomi Klein
Disaster Capitalism Interview
If you are interested in reading more, check out the introduction of Naomi’s book The Shock Doctrine: The Shock Doctrine
At some level you might consider how you are implicated in this relationship. How might these ideas connect to things you are learning about liberation theology? Migration issues in El Salvador? Resource development and extraction?
If you have the time, and economics are of interest to you, you might be interested in watching her new documentary on the topic
Shock Doctrine Documentary
While on tour you will encounter amazing places and people and while you might feel an urge to capture everything you see, I would advise you to be as selective as possible when taking photos. Experience the world around you unfiltered without a camera between you and the world and allow yourself to immerse. When you do take a photo be thoughtful about what it is you want to capture and why you want to capture it. Below is a video on taking great travel photos. Check it out
Travel photo advice
Yesterday was an opportunity to relax and reflect at Las Huertas swimming park. A series of natural geothermal pools and rivers. After a morning of swimming and a picnic lunch, students returned to the retreat center for reflections, a session on global economics, and a discussion on some of our intentions for social actions we plan on taking once back in Canada inspired by our time in Mexico. After supper, our group led the sisters and the CREAR staff in a Eucarist church service and closing celebration. It was an emotional evening and many tears were shed as students began to say goodbye to their Mexico experience. In a few minutes we will begin our long journey back to Regina. See you soon!
Saturday morning after breakfast, students participated in a debriefing and reflection of Friday’s experience in Ahuatlan, then had a session run by the Hermanas de Guadelupe, the Benedictine nuns who run our retreat center. They told us about the long history of the center as well as their work in establishing and supporting base Christian communities in marginalized parts of Cuernavaca. The students then departed for ‘the peoples neighbourhood'(Colonia Alta Vista) a base Christian community in and around one of the main ravines in Cuernavaca. This would be the beginning of a 24 hour home stay experience where small groups would be paired up with local families and become short term members of a Mexican family. The home stay pushed student comfort zones, forced them to communicate as much as they could, to take part in family work, leisure time and connect with a new culture. Student experiences varied greatly socio economically and culturally, and the incredible stories from travellers afterwards demonstrated both the incredible hospitality of the locals as well as the differences between households. One group got to split time between two homes and help care for young children, another group had the opportunity to attend a dance party in celebration of a baptism, two groups were toured around the city and got to see Cuernavaca at night through the eyes of a local, and yet another group attended Sunday morning mass and had an intimate breakfast with the priest afterwards! After spending 24 hours together with families the community came together to celebrate and reflect on the cultural exchange program. Students and families alike were gushing over the experience and the students have not stopped talking about the home stay since. Upon arrival back at the retreat center a fair trade cooperative artisanal market came to talk to our group and to have a chance to sell their beautiful wares. The students have reflections in a few minutes and tomorrow a morning of fun and relaxation at a natural swimming park! Hasta la proxima!
This morning after breakfast our group boarded a bus to Amatlan, an indigenous village one hour from Cuernavaca. The scenery enroute was dramatic with sweeping mountain vistas and striking rock formations. Upon arrival we were recieved and welcomed into the family home of Nacho Torres, an indigenous leader, vetrinarian, activist and spiritual practitioner. Nacho recounted a survey of Nautl history and religion as well as an exploration of the impact of Spanish colonization on the indigenous peoples, more recent economic development based on the private ownership of land and services like water, education and health. After a delicious meal in the Torres family home, Nacho lead the group on a mountain hike to an indigenous sacred site (“place where two rocks meet”) where he lead us in a ‘water ceremony’. We hiked back through the village flanked by an army of local dogs as the sun began to set. Tonight after supper we will take a cabs to the zocalo where students will have an opportunity to see the sites, and shop at the artesenal market. Tomorrow, after morning sessions at the retreat center, students will depart for their overnight home stay! Hasta proxima!
We are here, safe and sound in Cuernavaca! We arrived at he Retreat Centre at 3 am, slept soundly (and briefly!), and have spent most of the day orienting ourselves to our beautiful surroundings. Our retreat centre is set in beautiful gardens and run by a lovely cohort of Benedictine sisters. We got to know our guides Kim, Ariadna, and Susanna who will be with us for the next 9 days. We had some orientation sessions, a theatrical exercise, did a guided walk around our neighbourhood and even had some time for frisbee, yoga, and Lycra tube games! The students are still a little tired but are in good spirits! We are preparing for dinner right now and tonight have a guest speaker from the National University who will be presenting a crash course on Mexican History. So far all are healthy! Hasta la proxima!