sábado, 1 de julio de 2017

Levels of Perception

For my last post I want to tie my experience together with the theme of PERCEPTION. For me, this was a very important topic to discuss and be aware of because I never had the desire to travel to Mexico. Despite being mexican, it never appealed to me. Never have I ever been a beach person and I dread hot weather! Choosing to embark on this experience was a big decision for me.

Before departing I naturally had several uneducated remarks made about my travels and many were genuinely concerned for my life which I did not understand because my university would not send me somewhere they did not find safe. Despite all comments. made, I was still excited to head somewhere new.

Responsible tourism was the perfect introduction to the internship and the experience as a whole. When I travel with family I tend to be a typical tourist because we are in new surroundings so we only do what we are told to do. Being in Mexico with a responsible tourism mindset gave me a sort of freedom to wander and explore without feeling the pressures of doing what everyone suggests to do otherwise. Luckily I was able to apply this newfound mindset a month later as I explored Hawaii as a responsible tourist. Meeting with the locals was essential. I had one friend on the island who helped me explore areas beyond the resorts and popular beaches.

For the future I now know how much more a place has to offer when I visit. I will not be as afraid to explore what would be considered the unknown to tourists. I also never travel alone so I will be able to share these experiences with others in hopes to expand their perspective as well.

jueves, 29 de junio de 2017

Leadership Requires Vulnerability

Our time spent in San Pancho was aimed towards developing our leadership skills. Typically, when you think of a leadership academy you think of powerpoints with a list of tips, maybe a few speakers here and there and then reflection about what you learned. But Entreamigos made the experience beyond what anyone expected!

The first day we were asked "what impact do you wish to have on the world and why?" Each of us gave a short response to the question without much thought and were told we would put together a short speech to present our explanations in front of the community on the last day. Little did we know, the entire week would be dedicated to discovering the real "why" to our answers by opening ourselves up and finding the deeper reasoning.

The days leading up to our final speech were emotional and I had a very difficult time convincing myself that I would be able to be vulnerable up on stage in front of several people I did not know..but I did find comfort in the fact that I did not know any of them. For me this was the biggest thing I learned for myself. Growing up I never shared my 'why' because I felt as if it was me laying my troubles on someone else. During this week in San Pancho I learned that my 'why' could inspire others, make me more personable, and even help me have a better understanding about why I want to dedicate my life to helping others.

When I look back I realize a majority of my friends and mentors and family who truly inspire me, have inspired me with their story. Before my experience in San Pancho, I had never thought about why I looked up to someone but that seems to be the underlying theme. I now know as I prepare to head into a career, that being vulnerable at appropriate times is acceptable and just makes you human. It also reminds me that everyone has a story as to why they are the way they are and no one should EVER forget that.

lunes, 26 de junio de 2017

Ethics ALWAYS Matters

In order to truly understand something, it is best to experience it for yourself. Reading and hearing stories can only get you so far and this trip confirmed this theory for me. Before leaving for this internship we were required to read a few articles and watch Ted Talks about breaking stereotypes-which was great! I thought "wow I am already much more open minded than I was before" but I had no idea how much more my mind could expand.

When I first met this little boy, he ran up to me with a notepad that was full of his drawings. He only had one page left and drew me a picture, tore it out for me to keep and then told me he did not have any more paper. The next time we came to see them I brought him this coloring book (pictured above) and I have never seen a kid so excited about a coloring book in my life! I took the picture above about five seconds after I had handed it to him. This was such a small event that had such a powerful impact on me. Observing his overwhelming appreciation left a lasting impression for the entire family.

Working with children in the past, I have learned that you can learn a lot about them once you meet the parents. Knowing Don Moises and Dona Zenaida past helped me understand their great success in helping raise such wonderful grand children. They had to work for everything they have and there were never any excuses.

When we first met them we asked about their hammock business and the way they explained that their consistent buyers were the people who buy in bulk and then sell them down in the plaza. Being a business major, I was very interested as to how they made sure that the sellers from the plaza were being loyal and not selling them for more than they are worth. I was stunned to discover that he had no idea how much they would sell them for I thought "they could be ripping you off and you have no idea" but he calmly said "as long as I am selling them for what I think is a fair price, then it is up to them to make the same decision". Ethics came to mind.

Sometimes I struggle with falling behind or losing an advantage to someone who is not ethical because even though I made a decision that sat well with me, it did not help me get to where I wanted to be as quickly as others. So far I have only really experienced this in school but it was great for me to see a business that thrives while remaining ethical. I learned that as long as you are content knowing you are making the right decisions, then you will be content.

domingo, 4 de junio de 2017

When we know better, we do better

I came across this quote the other day and it could not be more relevant to my life right now.

Coming down to Mexico, knowing the work we would be doing but not knowing how to go about it, was something we needed to be educated on. Our first tour was a good place to start. The format of the tours is very informal. The artisans invite us into their homes and tell us about their lives and how they got to where they are. Each story is different but the similarity is the underlying reason behind why they came to Bucerias - for a better life.

The first artisan we met was Leonarda . She is a part of the Huichol culture which is one of the five indigenous groups here. Leo's story is a long one but it can easily be summarized. When she was about 11 years old, her older brother snuck her out of the house in the middle of the night to travel to Bucerias in order to make money for their family. Running away from home at such a young age is actually common here. Her brother knew no one in Bucerias. They ended up finding work as dish washers at a restaurant and the owner gave them a place to rent out.Their goal was to save up enough money to bring home for their family, but when the time came, they only had enough to send one of them back to their hometown. Leo's brother decided that he would go and then come back to her. He never returned.

Leo continued her life, had two kids along the way and has formed a relationship with her brother even though she had abandoned her years ago.

Meeting Leo reminded me of privilege. Growing up with an endless amount of opportunities, I still made excuses. Leo grew up having to make her own opportunities and had every reason to give up, but never did. She was constantly looking to improve her life to help her children. Being the first story I heard once I got here, she opened my eyes.

By no means I think because we grew up with more, that we do not have our own set of problems. We obviously do. But what I want to implement back in my hometown is a sense of perspective that allows the children we raise to be appreciative of where they came from. So many of the artisans here have moved away from their hometown because they could not make a living, and they appreciate where they are now. Many of my peers (including myself) have been fortunate enough to appreciate where we were brought up and not having to run away at age 11 to make a financial contribution to our family.

Leonarda set the framework for my approach here in Bucerias . Storytelling is a huge aspect here at Human Connections and it's my favorite part of the tours. When I walk through the Plaza and see all of the vendors who are trying so hard to sell, I wonder what their stories are and if they went through something similar to Leonarda . Sparking these conversations around the world could have a huge impact on several lives. Having an open mindset is beneficial because I want to know more and learn more about these people because when we know better, we do better.

viernes, 26 de mayo de 2017

What to Expect...When You have NO Idea What You are Expecting

Being open minded about this trip was important to me. I did not want to make assumptions or worry about hypothetical issues. Expectations typically lead to disappointment but sometimes avoiding them is impossible.

            My Expectations 

-Thought the tours would be very formal
-Thought it would be easier to communicate since we would be going to a decently touristy area
-Did not think the indigenous people would be as welcoming because of this language barrier


My Reality

-Tours are casual and the people are willing to answer any question
Many of the vendors actually do not speak english
-The indigenous people are overwhelmingly generous and kind to us 

My expectations have changed because of my experiences. Before each excursion or trip I unintentionally create expectations that I later come to realize when I find myself saying "wow" or "that was surprising". 

The more I try to practice empowerment or the act of empowering others, the less I feel like I should intervene with one's needs. While observing the community's needs, yes I think there are many advances they could make to make their lives easier (such as machinery) but that authentic beauty that lies within their culture comes from the hard work they put into everything they do. For example, when we met a woodworker, there were several safety precautions that he could take that were as simple as wearing protective gloves, but he does not find that necessary therefore he uses his blade with bare hands and has even sliced off part of his finger. How he has only done that once is beyond me. Nevertheless he still produces amazing products and does not complain about the process he uses. 

Growing up with my father being a principal, I also paid attention to education. I have met a few children and heard about how next year for high school they will be going hours away to live on their own just so they can attend a decent high school. This is very common and many of the people that have graduated from a university had done the same thing at that age. I would like to address that barrier someday but first I need to ask what is the cause? Is it the teachers themselves? Lack of money is the most common reason, but is there something deeper?

As we continue to visit extremely talented and smart artisans, I cannot help but see the potential that exists behind their work. In particular, the artisan I am assigned to work with makes beautiful hammocks and is looking for new products to make. His technique is time consuming and limits him and his wife to making only 3 hammocks a day (4 hours per hammock). Their business is great because they do not have much competition so they are looking to expand their product line. It has been a bit of a struggle finding a product that they could make using their same technique. I believe that if they could learn to knit, which I think they could pick up on very quickly, they could find a larger variety of products to contribute to their market. But, making hammocks is all they know because it has been taught for generations. It is part of their culture. In the states, we are constantly trying to attain as many skills as possible so it is very different here because the artisans are not always open to learning a new trade because of lack of time or even their own self confidence. They know what they are good at and they excel in that area so that they are content...That, I did not expect.

jueves, 18 de mayo de 2017

Goals Goals & More Goals

As I head off to spend 1/3 of my summer in Bucerias, Mexico, I come to realize that 4 weeks really is not as long as I had initially thought.. That being said, I quickly narrowed down my goals and attempted to be as realistic as possible!

For a personal goal this summer, I would like to learn how to recognize the strengths of my team members by the end of the internship. Teamwork is essential for our project and our collaboration will become much easier if we are aware of each member’s strengths and weaknesses. The quicker we can understand what each member has to offer, the more effective and efficiently we can work as a team. I plan on accomplishing this goal by using self reflection and making sure I am learning from each member on my team. During the internship I will be able to measure the progress I have made when it comes time to delegate roles for the project. My goal is realistic because I will be spending every day with my team members so it would be impossible to not learn more about them! None of us have been close prior to this trip (besides Kyle and Alex obviously <3) and our main interactions have only taken place during class so there is plenty for me to learn!

From an educational standpoint, I am eager to pick up on the language and learn how to effectively communicate in an appropriate manner at a basic level. Although I am Mexican myself, I really do not know what to expect! Overcoming the language barrier will not only be useful for the time I spend here, but it will also allow me to communicate with my family that is from Mexico which would improve our overall relationship. On top of that, I want to become more informed about responsible tourism considering that is our topic of interest. The more credible I can become through the research I do, the better! This will allow me to be able to strategically help local businesses thrive and limit the negative effects that tourism may have on them. Responsible tourism is certainly not a topic many people consider so it is important to educate ourselves with the intention of educating others on how to be responsible tourists. I might even be able to convince my dad to vacation down here some day... responsibly, of course. Regardless, I am eager to be out of my comfort zone and see what I can learn!

Levels of Perception

For my last post I want to tie my experience together with the theme of PERCEPTION . For me, this was a very important topic to discuss and ...