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Communities of Liberation, Cuernavaca Mexico (5)

This is the fifth in a short series about my two week Spanish language and social justice immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico, with Pacific School of Religion‘s Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) and CILAC Freire.

Our group visited a variety of museums in Cuernavaca, Tepotzotlán, and Mexico City (Ciudad de México). Although I have been to Mexico many times for both business and leisure, I never before visited any of these remarkable cities. There are a number of excellent collections of prehispanic artifacts, two of which we visited: the Museo de Arte Prehispánico Colección Carlos Pellicer in Tepoztlán, and the Yolcatl: La representación animal en el Morelos Prehispánico in Cuernavaca. We did not have time to see the large and famous National Museum of Anthropology (although I have seen some of its collection in other museums), so I plan to return to Mexico City to see that. (Another treasure of Ciudad de México I missed seeing is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.) However, I was very happy at last to see the world famous Diego Rivera murals on the history of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional.

Museum of Memory and Tolerance: The most disturbing museum we visited was the Museum of Memory and Tolerance (Museo Memoria y Tolerancia), Mexico City. It presents a wide variety of information about genocide, racism, LGBT bigotry, and other forms of intolerance, including extensive galleries about the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide and other crimes against humanity. I grew up in a Jewish community in San Francisco that lost most of its senior members to the Holocaust, and I later worked with Holocaust survivors on a kibbutz in Israel, so touring these exhibits was painful.  In 2014, I visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial with the TechWomen Delegation, which I wrote about in “Touring Kigali,” “Swords to Ploughshares, Rwanda” and other blog posts. The Kigali Genocide Memorial also offers exhibits on the topic of genocide around the world.

One of the most upsetting exhibits in the Museum of Memory and Tolerance was on Hate Speech (Discursos de Odio), featuring a wall-size display on President Trump speaking vitriol about Mexico. I felt nauseous and embarrassed at how America is seen now, and I wished that there were some way to say how deeply many Americans disagree with our President. The museum’s ending exhibits about more positive topics like Tolerance and Diversity seemed weaker and less effective than the horrors presented in the upper floors. The final room honors four great leaders with heroic statues and video biographies: Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, ending on a message of hope. There are busts of these four outside the museum as well.

 
Nursing mother and dog vessel, ceramic artifacts in Museo de Arte Prehispánico Colección Carlos PellicerTepotzotlán, 2019

 
Iguana and starfish, ceramic artifacts in the Yolcatl: La representación animal en el Morelos Prehispánico, Cuernavaca, 2019

 
Artifacts from the Holocaust: measurement tools to determine race, in the Museum of Memory and Tolerance, Mexico City, 2019

 
Artifacts from the Holocaust: boxcar used to transport prisoners to concentration camps in Poland, and Walther P38 German pistol used by the Wehrmacht, in the Museum of Memory and Tolerance, Mexico City, 2019

 
Exhibits on the Rwandan Genocide, in the Museum of Memory and Tolerance, Mexico City, 2019

 
Never Again: flowers for a mass grave – honoring the dead on the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, Kigali, Rwanda, 2014

 
Machete, mass gravesite from the Rwandan Genocide, Rwanda, 2014


Lost Potential – In Memory of the Children Lost in the Genocides (El Potencial Perdido – En memoria de los niños perdidos en los genocidios), in the Museum of Memory and Tolerance, Mexico City, 2019

 
Racism and LGBT Bigotry, and Tolerance, in the Museum of Memory and Tolerance, Mexico City, 2019

 
Hate Speech (Discursos de Odio) with a film of President Trump, big statues of Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, in the Museum of Memory and Tolerance, Mexico City, 2019


Busts of Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, in front of the Museum of Memory and Tolerance, Mexico City, 2019

 
Diego Rivera murals, Cilac Freire group at the Palacio Nacional, Ciudad de Mexico, 2019

 
Diego Rivera murals, Palacio Nacional, Ciudad de Mexico, 2019

Blog post updated 5 Feb 2019

Photos Copyright 2014-2019 by Katy Dickinson

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Communities of Liberation, Cuernavaca Mexico (2)

This is the second in a short series about my two week Spanish language and social justice immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico, with Pacific School of Religion‘s Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) and CILAC Freire (Paulo Freire International Center for Languages, Art and Culture). In addition to Spanish grammar and conversation each morning, our group benefitted from a variety of talks (“charlas”) on social justice topics.

Migración: Testimonios de una familia guatemalteca: Our first speaker shared his difficult experience as an immigrant many years ago from Guatemala to Mexico, and his continued work for political change, particularly to benefit indigenous people like the Maya, at the same time as making a living and raising a family in his new country. Two of our questions after his presentation:

  • “What can the US do to help?” – Make sure that donations actually get to the people in need and are not taken by someone else along the way.
  • “What was most difficult after moving to Mexico?” -The family had to repress their home culture until they could get their legal status sorted out in Mexico. It was difficult not being able to speak Mayan with his wife during those first years. His kids understand but speak very little Mayan.

El Método de las CEBs: Our next talk was the first of several about base communities (Comunidades Eclesiales de Base, or CEBs), which were also the subject of one of the papers we read before we came to Mexico: “Back to Basics Mexican Style: Radical Catholicism and Survival on the Margins” by Elsa Guzmán and Christopher Martin, Bulletin of Latin American Research Vol. 16, No. 3 (1997), pp. 351-366.  The CEBs are small groups that meet monthly long term, using liberation theology, prayer, and radical community action to live out their Christian faith. Their method (método) is:

  1. Ver – see and identify community issues
  2. Pensar – think and prioritize with eyes and heart
  3. Actuar – act as a group to work on the community issue
  4. Evaluar – evaluate the action and progress
  5. Celebrar – celebrate, give thanks with hospitality

Each group’s scope of action is small but may include civil disobedience to resolve a community issue, such as trash not being picked up. We were able to join a CEBs group in their regular meeting, including a prayerful reflection about a collection of objects related to the ongoing celebration of the three kings. We ended the reunion (meeting) with the Prayer for Peace, below, followed by cookies and hot juice. CEBs were started in Cuernavaca by the beloved Bishop Sergio Méndez Arceo, who is locally called Don Sergio.




¡¡Viva Cristo Rey Y Juez!!
ORACIÓN POR LA PAZ
Señor Jesús, tu eres nuestra paz, mira nuestra Patria dañada por la violencia y dispersa por el miedo y la inseguridad. Consuela el dolor de quienes sufren. Da acierto a las decisiones de quienes nos gobiernan. Toca el corazón de quienes olvidan que somos hermanos y provocan sufrimiento y muerte. Dales el don de la conversión. Protege a las familias, a nuestros niños, adolescentes y jóvenes, a nuestros pueblos y comunidades. Que como discípulos misioneros tuyos, ciudadanos responsables, sepamos ser promotores de justicia y de paz, para que en ti, nuestro pueblo tenga vida digna.
Amén.
Viva Christ the King and Judge!!
PRAYER FOR PEACE
Lord Jesus, you are our peace, Look at our Homeland damaged by violence and scattered by fear and insecurity. Comfort the pain of those who suffer. Give success to the decisions of those who govern us. Touch the hearts of those who forget that we are brothers and cause suffering and death. Give them the gift of conversion. Protect families, our children, adolescents and young people, our peoples and communities. That, as missionary disciples of yours, as responsible citizens, we can be promoters of justice and peace, so that in you our people may have a decent life.
Amen.

 

Mexico and Morocco: Something I did not expect while in Mexico was a number of similarities I noticed with Morocco. I was a member of TechWomen Delegations to Morocco in 2011 and 2014, and in 2018 was a TechWomen Impact Coach for Morocco. I find much to admire in both Mexico and Morocco – not the least is the grace with which those nations manage their centuries-old and complex relationships with the USA. While the countries are different in many ways, some of the similarities I saw were architectural: the homes I visited were focused inward and designed to keep things cool, often using traditional building materials with thick walls, ceramic or stone floor tiles, and decorative ironwork that stand up well in a hot climate. Other similarities were cultural, including remarkable hospitality to strangers and generosity toward those in need. There were also simpler commonalities like terra cotta cooking pots (“flameware“) and embroidered linens in regular use, plus a long history of excellent artisan work in silver, leather, and weaving.


Household pottery markets: in Cuernavaca, Mexico (2019), and Fez, Morocco (2014)


Dogs on roof: in Cuernavaca, Mexico (2019), and Fez, Morocco (2014)


Embroidered linens: from Oaxaca, Mexico (2019), and Marrakesh, Morocco (2011)

Photos Copyright 2019 by Katy Dickinson

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Communities of Liberation, Cuernavaca Mexico (1)

I just returned from a two week Spanish language and social justice immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico. This first post provides an overview, part of a short series about what we saw and learned.

Communities of Liberation Blog Series: The posts in this series are-

    1. Communities of Liberation, Cuernavaca Mexico (1): About Blogging, Course Description, Celebrating 3 Kings, local homes, Cuernavaca, Museo de Arte Sacro, Tonantzin
    2. Communities of Liberation, Cuernavaca Mexico (2): Immigration, Base Communities, Mexico and Morocco
    3. Communities of Liberation, Cuernavaca Mexico (3): Customs and traditions, Virgin of Guadalupe, San Charbel Makhlouf of Lebanon, Iglesia del Río de la Plata and the LGBTQ community
    4. Communities of Liberation, Cuernavaca Mexico (4): Don Sergio Méndez Arceo, Museo Morelense de Arte Contemporaneo Juan Soriano, Coco, the Day of the Dead
    5. Communities of Liberation, Cuernavaca Mexico (5): Museo de Arte Prehispánico Colección Carlos Pellicer, Yolcatl: La representación animal en el Morelos Prehispánico, Museum of Memory and Tolerance (Museo Memoria y Tolerancia), Hate Speech, Rwandan genocide, Diego Rivera murals
    6. Communities of Liberation, Cuernavaca Mexico (6): Indigenous people, Zapatistas, Marichuy and 2018 elections

These six blog posts and 100 photos are being submitted to fulfill Pacific School of Religion (PSR) class requirements. My goal in writing these blogs is to present my experience and observations, raise questions and share new information, and to inspire my readers to learn more. I have over 5,000 potential readers in the USA, Middle East, Africa, Central and East Asia and other areas: 2,673 direct blog subscribers, 1,203 on Facebook, 1,361 on Twitter, not counting cross posts to other sites. The blog series is collected under the tag Mexico.

About Blogging and Katysblog: This blog series makes use of the interactive nature of the web log (blog). If you want to see a larger version of any photo, select it. If you want to know more about a subject that is highlighted in blue (or underlined in a printout), click the blue text to go to the linked page. If you want to communicate with me, the author, to ask a question or make a correction, click on the Comment bubble at the bottom of the blog entry. You can learn more about me on the “About Katy Dickinson” page. You can learn more about Katysblog on the “About Katysblog, Using Pictures” page. I hope you enjoy reading, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Communities of Liberation Course class: The Graduate Theological Union course was lead by Professor Bernie Schlager of PSR who accompanied the five of us. Three of the graduate students were from the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University (PLTS-CLU), one was from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), and I joined from PSR.  The course started in December 2018 at PSR in Berkeley with two regular class sessions about the history of Mexico and key social justice topics. The Communities of Liberation Course Description:

This course, offered in partnership with Pacific School of Religion‘s Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) and CILAC Freire in Cuernavaca, Mexico, will explore communities of liberation in contemporary Mexico, focusing on LGBTQ and women’s communities as well on issues of economic justice within Mexico and between Mexico and the United States.

On weekdays students will participate in ten days of language instruction, including three hours per day of formal classes and daily guided conversations. The classes follow a liberation pedagogy, emphasizing student-led learning and active participation. Each student will be placed in a home stay with native Spanish speakers. Home-stay sites are carefully selected and affirming of diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and ethnicity.

In addition, students will participate in field trips to important cultural and artistic sites; non-governmental organizations (NGOs); and community settings to gain greater awareness and understanding of Mexican history, culture, and social justice efforts. Students will also benefit from seminars on historical, political, and cultural topics, and there will be many opportunities for conversation with local community members.

We six arrived in Mexico on 5 January 2019, in time to celebrate the Biblical Magi on the Día de Reyes with Rosca de Reyes cake. In Mexico, the Magi arrive on a camel, horse, and elephant rather than just the camels I am used to seeing. During the first week, we saw nativity scenes all over town, some of them life size or larger. Cilac Freire, which describes itself as “the most progressive Spanish & English school in Mexico” presented us with traditional small gifts on our first day and told us that those who found one of the little Jesus figures baked into the crown-shaped cake would get to provide tamales for everyone. Cilac Freire was named in honor of Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire.


Our group was split between several local households which we shared with students in other Cilac Freire programs. I was one of three women who were lucky enough to be hosted at the home with the shortest walk to the school and two charming dogs: Guera (“Blondie”) and Queta. Our host Dora valiantly and lovingly supported our various food preferences and allergies and worked hard to get us to speak only Spanish at home by the second week.


Cuernavaca is the capital of the State of Morelos, south of Mexico City. It is a vacation destination for many in Mexico as well as for foreigners who attend its language schools. In the 19th century, Alexander von Humboldt named it the City of Eternal Spring. Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés built his palace there in 1526 (but most of the palace and cathedral were closed for repairs following the 2017 earthquake).  Cuernavaca is a vibrant place full of friendly people, good restaurants and museums, and busy traffic.

On our first day, we walked downtown to the centro or Zócalo to see the cathedral with its open-roofed chapel and Museo de Arte Sacro de Cuernavaca. I there learned about Tonantzin, the Aztec mother goddess whose carved stone figure was found buried in the wall of the cathedral and who has a relationship to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Guadalupe was to become a regular feature of our two weeks in Mexico.







Blog post updated 5 Feb 2019

Photos Copyright 2019 by Katy Dickinson

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San Juan Islands, Washington State

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We are just driving home from a week with family in the San Juan Islands at the north end of the State of Washington, just below Canada. This is about a thousand miles driving each way from our home in San Jose, California! All along the way, we saw the looming background presence of some of the largest California-Oregon-Washington mountains: Shasta, Baker, Rainier – part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the ring of volcanoes and associated mountains around the Pacific Ocean.

As this was our first visit to the islands, we also saw many of the tourist sights: Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, Pelindaba Lavender, whale watching with San Juan Excursions, Orcas Island Pottery, the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Lime Kiln Point State Park, etc. There were a great variety of wild and tame animals along the way: foxes, orcas, a great horned owl, deer, a camel, a black snake, salmon, seagulls, harbor seals and dolphins, sea anemones and barnacles, bald eagles, turkey vultures, quail, honey bees and bumble bees, raccoons and alpacas – and of course, horses, cows, sheep, pigs, cats and dogs. We enjoyed two Shakespeare performances: Much Ado About Nothing (at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR), and Cymbeline (at Island Stage Left, Roche Harbor, WA). A delightful trip!

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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Loon Lake, Wisconsin

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Last week, John and I visited his Plocher family at Loon Lake, Wisconsin. We were last there in 2009 for his parents’ 50th Anniversary. We re-painted the orange and white window trim on the front of the cottage and spent much time in boats, enjoying family and the lovely peaceful surroundings. In addition to Cassie the cocker spaniel and our human family, there were animals (mostly birds and bugs) with us everywhere. The Osprey fish eagles, Bald Eagles, and Loons were the most spectacular but the variety of dragonflies was fascinating. My least favorite were the swarms of biting mosquitoes.

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Images by Katy Dickinson Copyright 2013

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Local Animals

I was suggesting images to my artist son Paul for his current animal series of water colors and thought that a blog with pictures of some of our local Willow Glen, California denizens would be of interest. Not pictured is the horrible towhee bird who is flinging himself repeatedly at my caboose office window as I type.

My cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus), Guapo and Sparky, eating a dried pepper:
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Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopelmatus) in the side yard:
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Big garter snake (Thamnophis) in front of our house:
(picture courtesy of neighbor Jamie Lynch)
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Alligator lizard (Elgaria coerulea) on neighbor’s sidewalk:
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American swallowtail butterfly caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) on fennel in the front yard:
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Redda the dog (Canis lupus familiaris) trying for a lick through her kennel fence:
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Beggar dogs hoping for a handout:
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Cat (Felis catus) dominating the neighbor’s car:
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Garter snake picture Copyright 2013 by James Lynch, other pictures Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Mentors Lunch

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16 TechWomen 2011-2012 mentors (and potential-2013 mentors) gathered at my house in San Jose California last weekend for a potluck lunch and to hear Conference Chair Taghrid Samak tell us about EgyptNEGMA (Entrepreneurship for Development in Egypt – to be held next week at MIT).  One of our own TechWomen mentees, Heba Hosny, is an EgyptNEGMA-2013 finalist. My guests enjoyed the new porch and a tour of WP668 – the backyard caboose where I have my office.  Three had also been mentors in my SEED mentoring program at Sun Microsystems.  It was such a pleasure to be able to host this remarkably talented and energetic group of technical women!

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Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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