Oaxaca

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Currently traveling in Mexico, updates to come! After a few days in San Cristobal de las Casas, which included a visit to the Universidad de la Tierra there and a chat with Dr. Raymundo Sánchez Barraza, I am now enjoying the great city of Oaxaca, my first time ever visiting. Yesterday included a lot of walking around and taking it all in, taking advantage of locally made craft beers and street food, local live music, revolutionary book stores, taking in the sun on a beautiful day, and the general sights and sounds of this lively place that seems to combine everything I love about Latin American cities. I will definitely have to come back.
Today, my dear friend and fellow indigenous rights and autonomy enthusiast and I will walk across the city to Unitierra here for a conversation with Gustavo Esteva, whose books and articles we’ve been reading and/or re-reading this week and have led to meaningful discussion.

Unitierra

In my self-directed studies of international development, I’ve been introduced to Gustavo Esteva – a “post-development” theorist and practitioner from Mexico who has worked with the Zapatista movement and describes himself as a “grassroots activist and deprofessionalized intellectual.” I find his writing poignant, his ideas original, and his message inspiring. In a few weeks, I will be going to Oaxaca to visit Unitierra –  the “university” he has helped to create – and possibly even meet Gustavo himself!

Here’s an article he wrote describing the idea behind Unitierra:

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/liberate-your-space/reclaiming-our-freedom-to-learn

Chiapas!

This weekend was inolvidable (unforgettable)! Accompanied by my dear friend Bryce (from Chicago), I traveled to San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas, Mexico – the city where I lived for a summer while completing my first-level internship for the Loyola MSW program. This was my first time back, and it was everything I remembered! The city is enchanting and resonates with such powerfully positive memories for me. The weekend away was quite a luxury. Not only did I get to spend day after day in great company, I got to renew my love affair with this beautiful place and its wonderful food, culture, sights, and sounds. We ate amazing chocolates, walked all around the colorful artisan markets, drank a lot of mezcal, and even got to see some fantastic live jazz. In addition to the vacation aspect of this trip, I spent a morning getting to know Natik’s programs in Chiapas. Currently, Natik has 2 Loyola MSW interns working with them for the summer. I had the opportunity to meet them and go with them to their work site one morning – the home of two sisters in the indigenous village of Zinacantan where they run a Saturday educational program for students. These little ones were so much fun, and really engaged in their own learning. The experience was a great example of how Natik operates collaboratively with community leaders.