By Rohan Andresen ’12
We went to Puebla planning to do community service work, but many of us never thought through the work we did and the people we met, we would learn about culture and realize how truly lucky and blessed we are.
On July 4 16 incoming juniors accompanied by three teachers set off to Cholula, Mexico for 10 days; thankfully, I was fortunate enough to be one of the 16 students.
The town we stayed in, Cholula, is a small city in the state of Puebla, and is located two hours south of Mexico City.
Cholula is a picturesque city housing around 100,000 citizens that sits in the shadow of a looming volcano.
The work we performed was focused at two different institutions.
The first was a sustainable and environmentally friendly community center called Calpulli de los Niños where we did odd jobs such as mixing dirt to make bricks for an adobe office, grinding grain stalks for livestock feed, working at family gardens in the neighborhood, turning over manure and bagging and mixing feed.
The other work was a series of jobs done at Instituo Educativo Para Ciegos Y Debiles Visuale, a school for the blind. We performed necessary tasks such as moving furniture around, cleaning around the school, painting and helping out around the grounds.
At the school of the blind we were fortunate enough to listen to the founder of the school, a middle-aged man named Virgilio who lost his eyesight during the height of his life.
He discussed how neglected the disabled are in Mexico and how the government has such a lack of concern for their overall wellbeing.
He then made us realize we are so fortunate for our good health and how we must make the most out of every day, love all those around us and never take our good fortune for granted.
Several days into the trip, we went in groups of two or three to live with families in Cholula.
In these positions we were forced to immerse ourselves in the Spanish language in order to communicate and learn about the cultural differences between our lives and theirs.
We got to see how they lived, accompanied them to festive parties and Mass on Sunday, we got to play soccer with locals and speak solely in Spanish.
This trip was able to reiterate something that Brophy community service has been teaching me for the past two years: not to take things for granted.
I realized how difficult and minimally people in the third world countries live their lives, yet how happy they still are.
With that in mind I was able to reflect on our own lives that are so fortunate and filled with a wealth of education, money, possessions and resources; however, we are so often full of angst and looking for ways to get more in our lives for less.
The trip also made me realize how corrupt and unfair the government and society is in Mexico, especially to those who have disabilities, and why they strive to find a better and more just life.
Additionally, working on the sustainable farm made me think just how precious our natural resources are and why we are using so much of them and polluting the rest.
After seeing the polluted lands and rivers of Mexico, every time I turn on the shower or drink from a faucet I remember just how great it is that we have clean water so accessible.
All in all, the trip was educational and reminded all of us how fortunate we are and how we can learn different lessons from everyone, everywhere.