Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dispatches from Mexico: Mother's Day, pizza and migrant assistance

Our 10 officers studying Spanish are coming up on their last week in the city of Morelia in Michoacan, Mexico. Last week, they got to experience a Mexican Mother's Day, futbol games and a migrant assistance center. Guest blogger Sergeant Lionel Colon describes their experiences and shares some of his photos:

May 9
Today, most of us spent time with our host families. Others found time to run much-needed errands as our weekdays are full of classes, cultural excursions and time spent in the community practicing our Spanish.

I attended a local church gathering of people who are friends with those I attend church with back home. I was received with warmth and kindness. The children present all read a prepared reading and offered impromptu speeches of thanks for their mommies. Afterward, I was invited to a children's birthday party. It was at Peter Pan Pizza, and it was absolutely delicious and would rival our most popular pizza establishments. Although, many of those present smothered their pizzas with ketchup. The event included the traditional piñatas.

We all ended our day preparing our homework for the next day.

May 10
Happy Mother's Day! Well, today it is celebrated here in Mexico. It’s a fixed holiday on May 10. We showered our host mothers with gifts bright and early as we began our week.

Classes resumed with the addition of yet another verb tense. Later, we completed the afternoon with conversation class with our professors out in the community.

May 12
Classes all morning. Homework in the afternoon. Then an evening at the Monarcas futbol game. The stadium was full of fans as the team continued through the playoffs. The fans were a bit more vocal this game when fans of the competing team appeared. We continued our Spanish at the game as fans continued to be eager to speak with the visiting Americans. It ended in a 3-3 tie.

May 14
Classes, two exams and more Spanish to work on. After classes, we visited the Center for Migrant Assistance. This team of workers facilitates so many things to assist people born within this state, Michoacan. They organize groups to provide family assistance like our victim compensation fund. They assist in foreign police investigations. They organize Michoacanians in other countries to give back to their foreign communities and also back to their place of birth. They coordinate medical care exchanges with doctors from other countries. The list goes on and on. As we left, they provided us with a gift bag and most interesting of all, a publication of migrant stories (both Spanish and in English). They were anxious to learn more about our CAN Center and hope to assist our Department in any way they can.

May 15
This was our first Saturday without an excursion planned. Some stayed at home and participated in family events. Others returned to nearby Patzcuaro for the day. The weather was amazing. It was the perfect day to relax and continue our immersion experience.

We spent the afternoon at a local restaurant, San Panho's, watching the Monarcas away futbol game. The restaurant ran out of ketchup, ran out of change and the Monarcas didn't even come close to winning. So as the game ended, we went our separate ways. Some visited the Cathedral Lighting Ceremony. The area streets were closed to vehicle traffic, and the crowds gathered for the celebration.

Mariachi band.

Local artisan.

A bridal party circling the Plaza

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