Sharing in a learning experience
Last month, a group of Aspen High School students chose to spend their Ex Ed week in a small ejido (village) in Northern Mexico with the program Beyond Borders (see Tucker Eason’s Soapbox column in the May 11 Aspen Times).
These students lived with host families in tiny, brick and plywood houses. They worked alongside their hosts in the onion fields and were paid about $3 for a day’s work. They watched their host brothers and sisters get on a school bus at 3 p.m., to travel two hours to the Sony factory on the border and return 12 hours later with $7 in their pocket. They spoke Spanish all day long and each student spent an hour a day with their own Spanish tutor. They paddled canoes through the Cienega de Santa Clara and learned about the ecology of the region and the interconnectedness of our communities at either end of the Colorado River. At the request of the village’s ecotourism group, they painted a bird-watching tower at the lagoon.
Life in Ejido Johnson is simple: no telephones, limited running water, no rush or stress. What the people of the ejido have, they shared willingly with these students: beans and tortillas, a sense of true community, friendship and love.
I like to think of service trips as a symbiotic experience. We give what we can to communities in need and they give back to us as well. In our hectic, American lives, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that matter: family, community, friendship and the present moment. In Ejido Johnson, the people are rich with these things and they offer them to us freely. How fortunate we are to be able to share what we have with each other and come away from the experience with more understanding, compassion and inspiration to cultivate what really matters in our own lives. This experience truly changes lives on both sides of the border.
Tonight, on Thursday, May 15, at 6 p.m. at Aspen High School, these students will be serving up Mexican food, showing a slide-show and telling stories of their trip. All are welcome to come and learn more about this amazing experience.
teacher, Aspen High School
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