Friday, March 15, 2013

My Furry Little Friends

Hola! I'm Ariel and this is my first trip to Tijuana with the Esperanza group. I am a junior at the College of Wooster majoring in History. This week has been eventful-full of surprises and adventures. I spent the whole week at the same site and enjoyed getting to watch the house progress over the course of 5 days. I made quite a few friends this trip- both human and animal. Traveling in foreign countries presents a number of interesting contrasts to the United States; one of these is the presence and treatment of animals. I have always been an animal lover and seeing so many strays wandering the streets definitely tears at my heart a little. I'm aware of the number of diseases that stray animals can carry yet that rarely stops me from picking them up and giving them a little love. The animals were everywhere, including the worksites. One day, as I held one cat, another girl assured me that it had fleas and I sassily responded that it surely did not have fleas. It was too clean and happy looking to have fleas. Duh.

Two orange tabbies greeted me at the site on Monday. They were both were boys and had stubby tails, an uncommon practice in the U.S. They spent most of the day lying on the tops of the cinder blocks while I slaved away. No surprise- they came around during lunch and meowed and purred when I pet them and I (maybe) gave them a tiny piece of my food. Each day they appeared around the site as I worked and I was always comforted by their presence. Our last day at the site was full of emotions; we helped a family complete a house to live in, saw a very pregnant dog give birth to 10 puppies, and I said goodbye to my tabby cats. My memories in Tijuana will always be of the people we helped and the small bond I made with my furry little friends.

Where's Taty's Boots?

Hola! I'm Tatyana Marie Colbert, also known as Taty! This was my first time volunteering with Esperanza. This trip was full of firsts for me. This was the first time traveling by plane, and the first time leaving America. I was more than excited to go on this trip. Mexico is such a beautiful country and the culture is amazing. All of the people I have met were amazing! I love the music and I learned so sweet dance moves! The food here is phenomenal and I could eat tortas alllllll day long.

I learned so much about issues reguarding the border. Before coming to Tijuana, I didn't hear anything negative about this place. Everyone was telling me to be safe and asking me why I would want to come here. Honestly, I never once felt scared to come to Tijuana and I feel more safe here than I do at home. I would love to come back and volunteer again.

I also really enjoyed the building the houses. It's really neat to see a bunch of people working together to finish a project. The families were more than welcoming and it felt good to interact with them. I took six years worth of Spanish classes and my Spanish is still up to par. I can understand a few words here and there but speaking Spanish is a nightmare! Although there was a major language barrier, communication was still possible. As in the words of Rachel De Luca, "Laughter is the same in every language." And it's so true, laughter and smiling and simply saying gracias instead of thank you goes a long way!

It's Friday and we are all packed and ready to travel back home. It's bittersweet. I don't want to leave. This was such and amazing experience and I am so thrilled that I was a part of something that will change lives forever! We'll see you soon!!!


Hello, my name is Kristen Sween, I'm a Junior at The College of Wooster, and this is my second time volunteering with Trinity UCC in Tijuana.

When I told my friends this year that I was going back to Tijuana for spring break, they all told me to "be careful," and "don't die." Surprisingly, my parents were super relaxed compared to last year, they didn't seem worried at all like they were before, but my friends definitely had negative things to say about Mexico. This seems so crazy to me because I studied abroad last semester in Scotland for 4 months, and not once did anyone tell me to be safe - instead, they were really excited for me (even though I was almost hit by a train in Berlin, and I ran into some creepy characters in Poland). Now, I know that Scotland doesn't have the reputation that Tijuana does, but I did everything all by myself. It's interesting to think of the different reactions I received. I was in Europe for 4 months, and only in Tijuana for 7 days. I realize that it's what we hear about Tijuana in the news that makes people so nervous - but honestly,  (as Rachel D. says) people make it sound like a warzone here, which is actually ridiculous. The most danger I've been in here is the chance of getting hurt at the work site. I've honestly felt more unsafe in parts of Columbus than I have in Tijuana.

One of the first nights in Tijuana, Eduardo told us that his son was considering going to high school in the US. Eduardo shared that, as a parent, he's very nervous about sending his son to America for high school because he hears all about the school shootings that have been happening. Though I didn't voice it, I became defensive - yeah, we have a problem with that lately, but it doesn't happen everywhere or all of the time. Then I realized that the generalizations that Eduardo made about our country are the same generalizations that we make about his country. Does Tijuana have a drug problem? Yes. Does that mean that everyone is involved? No. In America, we don't hear about the positives of Mexico - we only hear about the guns, and the violence. So, we assume that all Tijuana is is guns and violence. All Eduardo hears in his news about America is about the gun issues and school shootings. Is that all America is? No. There are many amazing things about the US, and should Eduardo write it off just because of the recent violence? No. So why do we write off Tijuana?

We leave tomorrow, and I'm definitely excited to see my family but I'm also sad to leave. In Tijuana, the sense of community, the love for each other, and the compassion for life that the people have is incredibly refreshing to be around. Tijuana makes me realize that the boys, the homework, and the "drama" that I complain about to my friends at college is really, reallyyyy pointless. The material items don't matter to me when I'm in Tijuana. I really love the person I am when I'm here, and I'm hoping I can continue living with this attitude when I return to Ohio tomorrow.

Also, the pregnant dog at our work site had her puppies today! There were ten of them when I left. Definitely the best way to end this week!

More videos...

Today was our last workday.  We were all together for a 40 cement bag pour.  Here is a video of the work site at the end of the day:

Next door to Friday’s worksite was a house that we poured the second story roof in 2006.  Here is a short video of that house today:

 At the end of work on Friday we always have a Fiesta – here is a short video of the kids hitting it:

Visit to house we worked at last year

One block from our worksite was a site that we worked at last year - Vicki's house.  She invited us over for flan and for a visit.  Our group last year poured the ceiling the first day.

Here is a video of her house - notice all the flowers.

La Morita Thursday workday video

Our group is all finished up at La Morita as we are merging with the other half of our group for a large cement pour.  Here is a video of the end of day.