Last Thursday my group took off for two to days to the mountains. We headed two hours outside of Oaxaca to Cuajimaloyas, a rural community (population 600), 10,000+ feet above sea level. One of our professors here in Oaxaca works with the community of Cuajimaloyas assisting with the schools and the teaching/learning of an indigenous language, Zapotec.
Cuajimaloyas was absolutely breathtaking. The air was so thin there that walking, even on flat ground, was tiring on my lungs. Despite the thin air, the community was so beautiful.
We spent the first afternoon in the classrooms, working with the students and having them draw pictures of what is important to them (their hobbies, their family, etc.). It was VERY challenging to me as I ended up being alone in a classroom of Grade 6’s with my very (very!) limited Spanish. Somehow it worked out and I had so much fun working with them.
That evening we headed back to our cabins and, after several rounds of cards, we all huddled together by the fire and sang songs and played charades. That night will definitely go down as one of my favorite memories of my time in Mexico. So much fun!
The following day we explored the town and worked with the students again, this time learning more about the Zapotec language. I cannot really sum up how incredible this experience was. I really learned a lot about myself as a teacher and as a person. It has really given me a lot to thought about in terms of cultural expectations, identity and the idea of being comfortable in a classroom. Very few people get to travel to this community and even fewer get to work with the children, we were so lucky and privileged to get to spend two days there and I am so grateful, I loved every moment of it.
PS I am realizing, more and more, that I am horrible at getting my picture taken (at least on my camera!) I took many pictures over the course of two days and had zero of me! I need to work on that this coming month 🙂