Monday, June 30, 2014

30th of June, 2014
Intern Shareef's Blog Day #5:
  Today was a very good day. In the morning I woke up and went to my first clase de español of the summer! It was a lot of fun and is with only 5 people so that is very nice, it was really interesting to see the difference between having many students in a class compared to very little and having a very good Mexican spanish teacher compared to having a spanish teacher whose first language is english and was born in the U.S and teaches out of a book. I learned today (pretty much) one unit/test back home in two hours today, which is very good because I really hope I will be able to speak spanish much better when I leave in august. After my spanish class all of the students went to orientation and we all introduced ourselves and said where we were from and an observation on Mexico so far. It was nice to getting to know everyone today. I met Amanda, Cindy, Jennifer, Jose, Kourtney, Sarah, Susan and Tania (don't worry it is only in alphabetical order not any other biased way.) After orientation my uncle took all of us down to the Zocalo to go visit the cathedrals. They were all very beautiful and the architectural designs were very precise, like how they are very symmetrical and detailed. The walls are detailed as well as the roofs. They are amazing and to think that some of these were made in the 1500's is really unbelievable seeing as though they did not have the same type of technology as us or even writing utensils, to blueprint a model of what it would look like. The art in the cathedrals are very spectacular as well. I really enjoyed going in and seeing all of the paintings of the virgin Mary, also all of the models of Christ on the cross. After the cathedrals we went to the MIRADOR TORRE LATINO which is currently the second tallest building in Mexico. It used to be the first but another building was built taller than it. The view was very beautiful. It was a very neat sight to see and I will not forget all the buildings you can see from the top. You could see most of Mexico City, especially the big Mexican flag that stands in the zocalo. After our trip up something like 48 stories we headed back to the campus.
 Around 6:00 after a few hours we headed to a language exchange to speak to the students who live in Mexico City. This was a very fun experience for me. I talked to a couple different people in spanglish and met a lot of new people as well as learning some new stuff about the immersion students. I asked a few of them how they became interested in psychology and I got some pretty different answers. For instance, since high school Kourtney always wanted to take a psychology course but never got the chance to fit it in her schedule, because her electives were always full, but when she got into college she really enjoyed it and decided to pursue it as a goal of hers. Jennifer had always wanted to study Psychology as a kid. She either wanted to do that or be a doctor but she felt like psychology was a much better fit for her. Tania started off wanting to do fashion when she first got into college but soon realized she didn't enjoy it as much as she thought she would. She remembered taking classes in high school and she was pretty good at it and she realized it was a suitable job for her.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

29th of June, 2014
Intern Shareef's blog #4: 
  Today we went to watch the fútbol game; Mexico vs Netherlands. It was a very intense match with Mexico scoring in the first three minutes of the second half. Mexico dominated the Netherlands pretty much the whole game but in the end of the second half the dutch scored and soon after that got a penalty (that in my opinion should not have been given) and ended up winning the game. It was a really sad sight to see, everyone was very disappointed and angry. It was very interesting to see so many people upset over a fútbol game and the loss created a very dreary vibe. After the game my uncle took me to go see the Ángel de indepedencia because that is where many people gather after Mexico wins but not very many people were there, there were a few chanting and singing but not much.

         After looking around we went to the mall to go eat and my Uncle, like the past few times, made me order my own food in Spanish. I do not like having to talk in Spanish when I can only speak very little. I get very nervous and don't want to mess up and have the person I'm talking to not be able to understand me. When I get nervous it is not a pretty sight, because I forget everything that I am supposed to do or say, for example the cashier asked me "¿Tu nombre?" which translates to "What is your name?" and I knew that but I was getting so nervous that I forgot and was getting very scared. It makes me so angry when I have to order my food but I know he won't to it for me so he is making me learn the hard way which is good in some ways but not good at all in others. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

28th of June, 2014
Intern Shareef's Blog #3:
  Today was a very fun somewhat relaxing kind of day. It all started with me waking up at 10:00 and my uncle bothering me all day about how I woke up at noon. "I thought you were dead" were the first words that came out of his mouth this morning, even though I was up watching a movie until 2:00 last night and it's not my fault I didn't fall asleep like him. Later that day we went to this Colombian restaurant for a late breakfast kind of like a brunch. When we first got there we ate this cheese bread that was shaped like a donut that was called pondebono. It was so delicious. I was also ordered this Colombian soda called a Pony Malta and it was flavored malt. It was the most gross soda I had ever tasted, it tasted like this very gross cooking ingredient with a rabbit dressed up in a suit on the front of the bottle (I can not remember the name of it at the moment.) When my meal came out it was so delicious. It had bread, spanish rice with beans and sunny side up eggs on top. It was a very traditional Colombian breakfast, which is cool because I was able to try breakfast from my ethnic background. We also bought Colombia jerseys, a red and blue one but my uncle Jason was very kind and also got me the yellow jersey some place else because they weren't selling them at the Colombian restaurant. After we got changed with our Colombia jerseys expressing our Colombian love loud and proud we went back home to watch the Chile vs Brasil game. That was a very upsetting game with Brasil winning over a penalty kick shootout. When my Uncle woke up we went out to go watch the Colombia vs Uruguay game at a restaraunt filled with Colombian people! It was a very cool experience, everyone was wearing their Colombia jerseys and were all very excited for this match. It is very interesting looking at Colombians. It is usually very hard to tell if someone is Colombian because they come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. You will find some Colombians to be very light skinned and others very dark skinned, in Oregon someone like me doesn't really "fit in" with everyone else because they are all Caucasian and there are few dark skinned people, but here I felt like I fit in more because everyone was very different but still all the same. This restaurant was filled with all types of Colombians so it was very cool to see all the different Colombians right in front of me. The game started off pretty good. The Colombians had most possession and were dominating the Uruguayans around the end of the second half James Rodriguez scored one of the most beautiful goals I have ever seen.

The Colombians went wild after that goal screaming at the top of their lungs, knocking chairs over, doing the traditional celebration dance.

It was so cool being around so many Colombians. I felt like I was really getting to experience different cultures instead of just the good ol' Americans from the U.S. In the end the Colombians won 2-0 and there was a big party where people were celebrating in the street blocking almost all traffic, cheering, jumping on cars, dancing and making a lot of noise with their whistles and horns and many other things. It was so cool to see so many people celebrating over a fútbol win because that will rarely happen in the U.S because soccer is somewhat looked down upon. So it was very cool for me to have that experience with the sport I love the most. During that celebration my uncle thought it would be funny if I took pictures with some ladies to make my mom angry.
So in the end I had a very fun day with my Uncle definitely not as fun as being a servant all day!

I am overthinking things and so maybe blogging about it will help. I experienced three trips as a kid that were life changing for me: There are so many details of these experiences that are burned into my memory and that have shaped my worldview.

My first trip out of the country was when I went with my Dad to Mexico. My parents were in the process of adopting my sister Maria. We stayed in the home of the Grimaldos, a family who lived in Puebla. Everything was new and exciting to me. Sister Grimaldo gave me my first avocado that she had picked from their own trees with my eggs. They had dogs on their roof. I had never been in a Catholic Church, etc. I like to look at my journal during that trip and see how I was making sense of things.

The second trip was also with my Dad. We went to Barranquilla, Colombia during a different adoption. This time my parents were not adopting a baby, but three children and so it was a very different experience. I connected with all of them, but especially my sister Maura, who was the youngest. The moment I met my sister Maura, I loved her. One of my most vivid memories was going with them to a beach. It was nothing like the beaches I had seen in California. The sand was black, probably from volcanic rock.  There were palapas.  We ate fish off the bone. It was a good day. It was a better day than when we left for the airport. I can’t imagine how confusing it was for these three kids. At the airport, my brother Carlos threw a tantrum and took off all his clothes. There was so much going on. I wish I had journaled during that trip. I wonder what I would know if I had.

My third trop was when I was sixteen. I saved my money for over a year so that I could go on a five-week trip to Europe. It was part of a group of about 20 people, mostly other adolescents. I am sure my parents assumed it would be a supervised trip, but really there was almost no supervision. It was very fun. We stayed in apartments and youth hostels and some hotels. We went to England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden (and probably others, but I’d have to refer to my journals to be sure). My sixteen-year-old brain did things like run into the Louvre museum to quickly snap a picture of the Mona Lisa and then left because we wanted to meet up with some local people we had just met. I joined a pool hall in Bern, Switzerland, etc. If I could go back there now, I would do it differently, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t change a thing.

So now, I have Maura’s son here with me in Mexico for five weeks. I want so intensely for this to be a life changing experience for him. I still love my sister and I could not love her perfect son more. I need to be careful with this desire and not overthink it. I need to remember that a 14 year old coming to stay with his uncle is not a graduate student coming on a cultural immersion program. I do want him to learn though. I do want him to journal and blog because I know my journals helped me remember the things I learned on my trips. I am going to ask my Dad what he hoped for me when he took me on those trips. I am sure he did make an itinerary and give me homework assignments. I was a weird kid and just randomly journaled. I loved that my first trips outside the United States were not tourist trips and we met local people. I loved that we stayed with the Grimaldos. In Denmark I met a girl who became my penpal for years after. I want that for Shareef. He told me the first day that it did not seem that different here from Portland. On the one hand, I think that is an important thing to learn. On the other hand, I think I need to help him see the differences more too. That said, this is me checking myself. I was learning a lot even when it might not have been obvious. I am just going to love my nephew and trust that he is taking it all in and making meaning in ways.  Still, I can’t help it. I am going to make him blog.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

27th of June 2014
Intern Shareef's Mexico Blog Day #2: 

Today I was my uncle's servant and I was put to work and treated very poorly and worked in very poor working conditions. I was called a bull and a servant, it was a very long day it started off with taking the metro it was very crowded and I bumped in to very many people. As well as almost falling down completely while trying to pick up a bag when the metro was stopping. When we got off the metro we went to the zocalo and saw very many people selling little trinkets as well as clothing items somewhat like a saturday market but everyone was on the ground selling their stuff on little two inch high tables. Tradesmen were also sitting on the streets looking for labor and giving their assistance to the public. We bought these journals for the students that were about 3 pounds each and we bought 15 of them and I had to carry them the whole way back to the university until we walked through the front entrance where my uncle took over so it didn't look like he was making me be his personal burro. When we walked inside I was introduced to many people and I was put to work almost straight away my first task of the day was to organize Uncle Jason's 150+ books by alphabetical order from the authors last name. 

During the middle of me organizing I was asked to go take boxes into another room and when I walked through the outdoor hallway to the room and I could smell the pungent odor of the fecal dust. It was one of the most horrid things I had smelt in a very long time! Something today I learned is that my Uncle Jason will make me go buy him stuff in a (to me) foreign country where I do not speak the language that everybody speaks.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Guest Blogger: Intern Shareef

Mexico City, June 26th, 2014:

Today my 15-year-old nephew Shareef arrived for a 5-week internship. As part of this internship, I am turning over this blog for him to document his experience of being out of the United States for the first time and his impressions of life in Mexico. So, introducing blogger Shareef!
26th of June, 2014
Mexico Blog Day #1:
Today was my first time going out of the United States. I had a very interesting day today and encountered some interesting people. When I got off my first flight and landed in Houston I noticed that the people here in the South were not as friendly as they are back home in the North West. I bumped in to many people and apologized but i never heard anything back except the occasional groan. When I boarded my flight to Mexico I realized almost everyone spoke either spanish and english or just spanish so it was hard to communicate with the other passengers because I am not fluent in spanish. After I got off the plane I had a pretty easy experience going through immigration even though I apparently filled out my immigration form incorrectly and on my nationality I wrote down that I was Afghan and Colombian but I needed to write that I was from the U.S so I had to re-do my form. Later I realized every time someone spoke to me in spanish if i said "hablo ingles" I would be directed to someone who spoke english or that person spoke english as well as spanish. Soon after getting through immigration I met my uncle and we took a taxi, this was a very interesting experience because in Mexico they do not have strict driving laws and I felt the Taxi driver was driving like how someone would drive in the video game Grand Theft Auto because he was cutting people off left and right, drove through red lights and never signaled. As we were driving I realized how lucky I am to live in the United States and not see graffiti on every street and the roads filled with garbage and such. I was happy to get home and see a place i recognized because of the many Skype calls with my uncle. Later that night we went walking to go eat tacos and I saw many dogs of all shapes and sizes, many people smoking, kids playing futbol, and a lot of cars not caring about traffic signals and people walking through the street. As we arrived to the restaraunt I saw a lot of bee hive shaped balls of meat and a lot of televisions streaming futbol games, highlights and interviews. As we ate I had some delicious tacos and now taco bell will never be the same for me.