Monday, July 12, 2010


A new chapter in my life is about to begin, one that calls for the creation of a brand new blog. This chapter will officially begin on August 24th, 2010, the day I fly into Mexico City for my Fulbright orientation. About a week later I will travel to Oaxaca City, where I will live for 9 months, working as an "English Teaching Assistant" at the Universidad Tecnológica de Oaxaca.

Other than the title and the fact that I am supposed to work between 15-18 hours a week, I still have only a very vague idea of my position will entail. I hope to spend my time organizing English conversation clubs, fun cultural events, maybe a film or book club, and collaborating with a professor(s) in leading classroom activities. As a side project, I plan to investigate the theme of bilingual education in Oaxaca; specifically, rural schools in which a combination of Spanish and an indigenous language is spoken (the state of Oaxaca boasts the largest number of indigenous languages spoken of any state in Mexico, at least sixteen). This may involve taking lessons in attempt to learn a sprinkling of some indigenous language, volunteering and observing in a bilingual school, and/or doing some field research on the current status of the bilingual education movement in Oaxaca.

Of course, those of you who know me know that I am not that incredibly academic, and while I will surely be working hard, I will also surely be spending a good amount of time salsa dancing, playing pick-up soccer, enjoying the rich art and culinary scene in Oaxaca (who knew there were 9 different types of mole according to Wikipedia? mmm-mmm), adventuring, meeting new people, and becoming even more in touch with that half of my soul that is Latina.

I don't see my time living abroad as some sort of "gap year" or time off from my "real life". Rather, it IS real life. Life seen through a sharper lens. Sometimes, we get so comfortable with our everyday surroundings and routines that we forget to really live. Picking up and moving to a new place, as I have done twice already in the past two years, has not been without its difficulties but has kept my learning curve steep. Living for a year in Philadelphia, moving between 4 different jobs and 3 different residences, was just as much of an adventure for me as volunteering for a year in the Dominican Republic or studying abroad in Peru or starting college in Middlebury, VT, or working for three summers as a health outreach worker to Mexican migrant blueberry pickers in Hammonton, NJ. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to live in many different places. Perhaps this intensity of experience and rapidity of change can't go on forever if I ever hope to do things like have a steady job and a family, but at the very least I hope to live the rest of my life in a perpetual state of culture shock. Without that, I think I would lose all sense of who I am.

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