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WESTMONT IN MEXICO

Escanela Westmont students

They are challenged to create spaces of simultaneous humility for correction, and bravery to keep on trying—again, again, and again. The struggles of a new language have been remedied with thrilling cultural immersions of traversing the Sierra Gorda waterfalls, listening to mariachis in a cemetery on Día de Los Muertos, climbing the pyramids of Mitla, and cheering on Independence Day next to the house of the Corregidora where the original conspiracy meetings took place.

At the same time, true cultural immersion entails a further degree of affiliation at the most basic human level. During an earlier trip to the capital city, students stood in an eerily empty Plaza de Tres Culturas and learned about the bloody government crackdown that followed the 1968 student uprising of Tlatelolco. After thirty years in prison, a man in a wheelchair sat under a memorial bearing his name as a lost victim, and we were left with a mixture of thoughts on the matters of justice and forgiveness.

The reality of Tlatelolco has been more palpable in the midst of the current political and societal happenings. Our hearts are being burdened over the unfolding events surrounding the recent disappearance of 43 students from Iguala. There is a strong sense of nation-wide mourning and desire for change, and we are being invited deeper into this experience through the eyes and perspectives of our localpena de bernal, westmont teachers and host families. Street closures, responsive poetry written on street walls, or class location changes due to demonstrations have jointly served to draw us closer in than the alternative black-and-white print versions we may otherwise be experiencing.

These happenings have supplemented the more daily engagements in evolving an expanded awareness of Mexican history, and how we can walk forward in a further informed theology of neighborliness. We are learning in a context where events are being impressed onto our hearts as well as our minds, and we look forward to sharing further upon our return.

Photos: Near of the crossing of the Escanela River in the Sierra Gorda Mountains; La Peña de Bernal, one of the largest monoliths in the area.