I’m free.

After almost 3 weeks ago of completing the internship, I still cannot put into words of how life changing this experience was.

I have learned to accept the person I am; I have always felt a sense of not acceptance from my family. I have had an interest in wanting to learn more about indigenous traditions and culture and now having partake in this internship I have learned to embrace it more.

Bucerias, gracias, for helping me understand how a touristy pueblo could feel. I have learned the true meaning of responsible tourism. Every artisan I meant and learned their stories, you can tell the hard work they have put into creating their art. I felt humbled to know their stories and empathize with them.

San Pancho, gracias, for having such welcoming community. The center has influenced every individual in the community and brings hope that one day I can make an impact of one person with the organization I will start.

As a result, from the program I have helped Don Moise and Dona Zenaida create new product ideas to sell during the low tourist season such as bags and plant holders. I created tags as well so they can label each product that could share with their customers their stories and what the product means to them.

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Here is one of the bags Don Moises made from out feedback and front and back label for their products.

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Experiences like this is what I would love to do as a full time job. I want to make an impact in a community that is extremely hard working. Reconnecting with my roots have been the highest impact from this experience that I will carry with me forever.

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This is picture as I traveled through the community in Bucerias. The views were beautiful.

Entreamigos leadership development week was an extremely intensive week. When I first started the week I had no idea what to expect, as we jumped into the week I soon realized how badly I had underestimated the intensity of the week. During the week,  11 people including myself, learned how to be vulnerable when publicly speaking. We had to create a speech explaining what we had gone through in the past that helped us understand what we want to do in the future. As many could imagine, when recently graduating college that’s the last question you want to hear because that’s nerve wrecking.

As I prepared throughout the week, I started to think what the answer was. I knew deep down my answer but I was too scared to come clean to everyone what my true WHY was. As it got closer to presentation day, I became more nervous. However, I soon realized in order to not let your past affect you, you have to learn to be vulnerable to accept it. And that’s what I did, on Thursday night in front of 60 strangers I stood before them as a Latina who has become a survivor of sexual assault. I did not come as a weak vulnerable girl, but an empowered Latina, that through her past struggles she has become more empowered to fight what is to come.  Entreamigos help me break a wall I had built to protect myself. It helped me see that in order to move on I have to be okay with being vulnerable. If it was not for this speech, I would have never come public with my past.

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This was how we “11 personas” ended our presentations.

I walk away from this experience with the utmost love for Nayarit. This month changed me for good. It has helped me learn so much about myself but as well of my beautiful Mexican culture that I’ve been itching to know.

I leave of with this…

“Thank you Mexico, for shining your light on me. The colors, warmth, culture, food, and above all the people that filled up my soul during this trip. I got to hangout with family I hadn’t seen in years, make new friends, and most importantly learn about different parts of Mexico’s rich culture and history that I’ve been itching to know. I ate mangos, sandia, jicama, guayabas, tacos, picaditas, enchiladas, tortillas, tortas, chiles rellenos, dulces, chicharrones, paletas, bolis, chamoyadas, churros, elotes, mole, pozole, raspados, empanadas, pan dulce, huachinango zarandeado, and camarones. The beach held me and made me feel at home. There’s something about Mexico that makes me feel like myself. This is the place I thrive and shine the brightest. I’m grateful and humbled to have such amazing supportive people in my life. Ya extraño a mi tierra. Hasta pronto mi México querido. ”

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You Belong.

 

Being in Mexico in a touristy side and not in a local pueblo has really taken time to get used too. Coming here to work and not just go visit my family has a different cultural climate. The community is very friendly, which I expected. I feel like at home while being a foreigner at the same time.

Coming here has given me different approaches to learning about the Mexico’s culture and history. Most definitely being here I have seen the good and bad about tourists.

During last week’s walk back home from the office, I witnessed something that angered me inside. A Caucasian male driving past us yelled out to an young fella that was sitting on the curb, “Here, throw this away” and threw his cup to the fella as if he was the garbage boy and that was his job. The fella was minding his own business sitting on the street curve when this male just threw him something. Surprisingly, the fella just responded “yes, jefe” As if this was something he was used to doing. I have witnessed many racist and rude people in my life. But it never gets easy.

I froze, I didn’t say anything. I was angered at myself for not standing up for him. This male had no right to treat someone like that. He angered my because he is one of those people that hit the “gringo” stereotype. The rude “gringo” that comes to Mexico and treats others like they owe something to him.

It made me think of power, privilege, culture and diversity. Although being here as a tourist I am realizing the diversity of this neighborhood. There comes a huge power passing by the plaza and all the artisans looking for you for a sale and with a simple “No, gracias” you are respectfully saying not interested. There is a cultural aspect in understanding the language of locals here. Which I love. You see this everywhere in the country and its undoubtedly one of my favorite things of Mexico.

Being here for learning purposes, I have understood responsible tourism in a hands on perspective. Living it is easier to understand the concept than to read about it.  Social justice correlates with responsible tourism. As a tourist we have to understand the different cultures that are around the host community. With different environments we have to understand our responsibility as a tourist. Social justice is important to take under consideration when meeting people in the community.

My EUPHORIA

So far this internship has hit all my expectations. I expected to be emerged into the culture and lives of local artisans. I hoped to talk to local artisan and hear their stories in person. I hope to walk around the neighborhood and feel like home.

What I did not expect and I am humbled to have met people like  Jorge, Martin and Damien. All three amazing men that were open about sharing their experiences and knowledge about the culture in Nayarit. I have learned to take in this information that all three have given me and spread awareness about it. There is not a lot of ways where I can help the 5 tribes in Nayarit, but I can bring awareness of their culture and traditions.

Exploring the cobblestone streets of San Sebastian and learning the towns history and secrets from Jorge, our guide, was heartwarming. Learning about different parts of Mexico is a dream come true for me. Through the stories I hear, I understand Mexico’s past such as the Revolution. I had no clue buildings, such as the church, would make holes through their walls which were used for guns during the revolution.

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Main church in La Plaza of San Sebastian which has the holes in the wall that were used in the Revolution.

When traveling to Tepic, away from the coast, away from the tourism – I loved it. Tepic reminded me of my hometown. Martin was our tour guide for most of the visit. His stories were my favorite. We sat and talked about what my views in life our, being raise as a Mexican-American. One thing he said to me is, “I know you will return to Mexico and live here. And when that happens you have a home with me. You will be someone in life, and you will prove your family wrong.” For only knowing me a couple of hours, his words meant so much to me. I wish to explore the sierra one day like he does, living among the natives. I know I will see him again one day.

Damian, a Huichol, left me amazed with how much he loves his indigenous community. I’m amazed even after leaving his town with his parents to pursue an education he still wants to return and bring awareness to his community and show to tourist what his community really is. The whole family were so welcoming and open about their traditions. I felt honored to have been hosted by him and his family and have been welcomed with a traditional meal.

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Jenee, Me, Elly, Damian, Alex, Kyle, Kenzie, Dona Irma, Don Samuel, y Don Martin during the meal.

Everyone is so open about talking about their experience. With a simple question they are willing to tell us anything we are curious about. The needs of the community is the need of responsible tourism, without them knowing the term really exists.

There needs to be a better understanding when tourism comes to these towns to explore responsibly. To help the host community better themselves rather than affect them. When hearing Damian and his plans to bring tourism to his indigenous community through tours in the following years, not to advertise his community but to bring awareness of their existence and traditions, was extremely humbling.

These opportunities of meeting people like Damian, Martin and Jorge is what gives me learning points on how to better my community at home as well as local communities in Mexico.

Gracias Mexico,

Jaz

Bienvenidos!

Bienvenidos a Puerto Vallarta were the first words I heard when arriving from the airport. Human Connections and all of Bucerias has welcomed me with open arms.

Mi querido Mexico, how I have missed you. Although this town is quiet different than my hometown Huitzuco its uniquely cultural and I love it. I feel so happy to have already managed to meet and learn about the history of some local businesses in town. I look forward to all the rich cultural stories I will learn from these entrepreneurs. Although they don’t know it, they all inspire to keep fighting for my dreams.

Human Connections has brighten me to a different perspective in traveling: Responsible Tourism.

I have various goals for this experience. I hope to help erase the language barrier between those who don’t understand Spanish between the first week of being here. Where I definitely feel the other interns adjusting to it already.  Also, due to personal reasons I fear for my safety in Mexico. I am trying to fade the fear while being here, being more comfortable to explore the area without being paranoid.

Professionally I would like to explore opportunities of working abroad. How hard or easy is it to adjust? How exactly does Human Connections manage to be in both countries as a nonprofit and organization?

Education would be to learn to apply my experiences in Sacred Heart at TX and even my research I conducted regarding the legal barriers Latino business owners face when establishing in the Unites States to this internships. Using the knowledge learned then to better the opportunities of future tourist exploring Bucerias and the area nearby.

Can’t wait to see what comes next!

Gracias Mexico querido.

Jaz

 

Can we start all over?

Where has the summer gone by? It’s the last and final week and I can’t help but be sad that is has come to an end. The only thing I have left to do is present on the day of the symposium! The day we have all been prepping and waiting for. I feel well prepared to present my research this Friday!

Throughout the process of our weekly deadlines, I was able to finish my paper without any problem. Since we had deadlines, I was able to break down my paper and have it done by the time the rough draft was due. Getting the poster board ready for the Summer Research Symposium was easy compared to the paper, since I was able to pull important points from each section and add them to the board. Overall the weekly deadlines worked to my advantage. The only bump on the road I got was trying to adjust the images so they wouldn’t pixelate for the poster board.

The most challenging part of this week was trying to be at two places at once. This week Sunday I had to move out of New Hall to my new location since CA training started this week. I had to juggle my CA training workshops while still preparing for the symposium on Friday.

Now that this summer has come to an end, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store. I plan on doing future research, maybe an extension of my project or a new topic. I am positive this won’t be the only time I keep my research ongoing. This program has definitely brought me to think of graduate school. I plan on applying to a graduate school and see what happens from there. I’m very excited to see what the future has stored for me!

With that note, here is the last picture I took my with my two favorite gals: Lucia and Christie! This picture highlights out times together over the summer. LAUGHTER!

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Say it ain’t so…. where did the time go?

My mentor was the Director of the Belief Program for the College of Business. His name is Dr. William C. McCoy. He has been nothing but the best mentor I could have asked for. He has taught me to grow as a writer. I came into the program not being the best writer, but I have definitely improved on my writing skills thanks to him.

He has helped me throughout the process the best to his ability. This was a learning experience for him, since he had never undergone the process with another student. I would have definitely not been able to do this without my mentor. Benefits from working with him was to expand my knowledge based on what he has of experience, although he was learning as we went along. He knew how to answer all my question to the best of his ability.

Now that my research has come to an end, when discussing my results and discussion section with mentor, he brought up to my attention different perspectives to write about. His feedback was definitely beneficial to me throughout the summer. He has definitely put time into me and I really appreciate it.

As for this week with my fellow SROPers, we had two birthdays to celebrate, Ayde’s and mines. Which just happened that we were both roomies! We all went out to dinner on Wednesday with everyone, it was by far the best experience. They surprised us with a cookie cake! Here are some pictures…

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Time needs to slow down…. please SROP!

My favorite workshop up to this day was the last minute workshop given to us on a Friday. The day Dr. Anna Quider asked to meet us. Not knowing what to expect from the last minute workshop, it shocked me to see how much she inspired me. She showed me how life gives you so many random opportunities and to not take anything for granted. Her story really showed me how normal she still is even having such a high position. I loved how goofy she was nothing how I expected from a Director of Federal Relations. Her presentation was not boring at all, she just knew exactly what to do in order to keep everyone interested. Dr. Quider is honestly one of the top five presenters I enjoyed in my time in NIU. She is definitely someone I don’t want to ever loose contact with.

So far as a researcher I have learned what an actual research report format looks like. It has helped me keep in track what is included with all the due dates SROP has given us to turn weekly. Since I came into the program clueless, this program has helped me learn how to incorporate my research in writing. Professionally I have learned how to communicate better, since I had to conduct interviews. I have also learned to write in a more professional manner, which that be either email or in a report.

Throughout the workshops we have met various departments across campus. But the top two that I plan on using will be the Research Compliance and Integrity department for IRB approval on future research projects as well as Dr. Anna Quider. Networking is the key to opportunities and I believe SROP has definitely given us multiple resources.

This program is going by so fast! Its so sad. I wish this program was longer….

I don’t have pictures from this week, but I do have many pictures of Christie’s faces this past week. I worked with her daily and its clear she makes me laugh a lot! ENJOY.

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