So I took a short break from writing on the blog this past week because I traveled to Memphis to visit Bo on his one week break from work. The tickets were much more expensive for him to come to Mexico so I decided to meet him in the US. It was a nice chance to visit with family who we hadn’t seen since our wedding and eat lots of delicious, homemade southern food.
A few days before I left for the trip I had the opportunity to attend and help put on on a graduation gathering for a remarkable graduate. This particular student, Aniceto Victoriano, is a member of an indigenous community that lives here in Mexico City. They moved here from Queretaro. Many families travel from different parts of the country to Mexico City to try their luck at making a living, most often by selling goods and other handmade items on the street to support their families. They often live in community with other families in very, very basic conditions. I visited one of the areas where they live with Lupita a few weeks before the party. The different “apartments” were separated by walls made of blankets, laundry is done by hand in the two large basins shared by all at the entrance, rough looking guard dogs pulled their necks on thick metal chains and stray kittens weaved their way through our legs. This secret world, all hidden behind fences that are just blocks from my apartment.
I met Lupita at the church down the street from my house in my first week in the neighborhood. She is the one pictured on the left in the cover photo, with the white blouse. She works with the children and their families to help them get their sacraments in the Catholic Church, usually communion and confirmation. She has known Antecito since he was 2 years old and she was the one who invited me to help assist her with his special day.
Antecito was told he could invite any number of friends that he wanted but he stuck to just family, which Bo and I found to be similar of Nicaraguan celebrations as well – very humble gatherings where family is always #1. Antecito brought his parents, one of his sisters (the other two were working at the time of the party), his aunt and uncle and three of his little cousins. In addition to family, the sisters of the convent where the party was held, myself, Lupita, and her friend who did all of the cooking, rounded out the guest list. We ate sandwiches filled with refried beans, potatoes and chorizo and a chocolate tres leches cake for dessert. Over our meal we talked about what Antecito wants to do now that he’s finished high school (continue his education studying social work), the family taught me some words in Otomi (their native language) and we discussed the varying weather of the different cities in the United States – they had so many interesting questions! After dinner we walked down to the church where a daily mass was held and Antecito got to do the readings.
Achieving a high school education can be difficult in the most comfortable of situations – the homework involved and the parent support that is needed. For a child living as Antecito and his family does, it’s quite an accomplishment. It was a great gift to me to witness him becoming the first in his family to graduate high school. He’s an example to his two younger sisters, who I hope will follow in his footsteps and be able to achieve a career of their choosing, not just one out of desperation or lack of opportunity.
Following the party one of the nuns asked me if I would be interested in helping her and some of the other community members learn English. I’m hoping to set up an adult education workshop for her and some of the other people in the community that would like some English support. The convent is across the street from our apartment and would be a wonderful relief if I found a project within walking distance to balance out the 90 minute trips that we have to the other projects. I’ve also always enjoyed teaching adults so I hope this takes off and hopefully I’ll learn a little more Spanish in the process.