Melissa's Oaxaca Service-Learning Blog

I was enrolled in a summer Service-Learning Program through ACCD. this blog follwed our adventures in San Antonio and in Oaxaca. It now holds some thoughts on life, and fun as well as comments. I will continue to post Oaxaca information as i get it. you will want to continue checking for updates since we are suppose to go back in March 07!

on my way to city council meeting
Thursday, June 29, 2006
this is an audio post - click to play
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/29/2006 06:14:00 PM   0 comments
Chick-Fil-A Serving More than Food

Great Service in not the only item on the menu at the Chick-Fil-A located at 3214 SE Military Drive.

When we first walked into the Chick-Fil-A, we were greeted by owners by smiling faces, and a basket full of mini cows. They were being presented to the first 100-kids.

"It's supercow," my four year old, Jacob said, as his cow started to accend in the air.

Jessica, who was celebrating her birthday exclaimed, "Mom it's like everybody's birthday today, look at all the balloons."

Donavan Delgado, who has been an employee since the establishment opened on November 17th, took our order and even brought out our food when it was ready. All with a big smile.

In fact as we recieved one of the best services I have ever had, I think better than any fancy sit down resturant. The employees walked around and checked with us, offered to refill our drinks before we could even speak.

I have always been a big fan of Chick-Fil-A, their tea, and lemonade are on the top of drinks that you have to try.

I recomend Chick-Fil-A, not only becasue of their great food, but beyond compare friendly service.

My daughter could pick anywhere to go and eat for her birthday and her choice was an excellent one.
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/29/2006 03:51:00 PM   0 comments
Some Pics for you
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
here are some pics that you might enjoy. we are getting ready to create a cd of some of our photos that we each took.

Rey... insisted that I came from Oaxaca... I cant wait to go back and see if he is still at the same street corner.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I ordered tacos off of this little food stand the last night... Gringas... i love this stuff it was sooooo good.. i think i only ate one taco, my fellow classmates ate the others.. when we go back it will be one of the first things i eat.. and for my drink....ummmm

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My friend Brendan drew this, i asked him to sign it, so when he becomes a famous cartoon artist i will have one of his orgional works. he was nice enough to let me keep this drawing.. it will be on ebay next week..j/k .. i have it framed in my room Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
We are getting ready to board our plane home to San Antonio
Blair and Aden are to the left, Mila is looking at something, Gale reading,
Mary is standing, and Alex, sitting, wow, we got a smile out of you in this one.
We were all quiet on the way home, some of us did not get much sleep the night before, we decied to stay up on the roof all night and proclaim our support to the teachers and bond with each other sharing stories and ideas of life. There was little sleep for me on the way home. Who can really sleep on a plane. Too much to look at outside. To be soaring as high as angels...

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posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/28/2006 01:33:00 PM   0 comments
my first audio blog!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
this is an audio post - click to play
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/27/2006 03:24:00 PM   2 comments
I need a hero
Monday, June 26, 2006
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/26/2006 01:25:00 PM   4 comments
What Gives Me Wings?
Sunday, June 25, 2006
I am back on Red Bull. I still cant seem to kick my headaches, and they
are causing me to feel like aliens have come and suck the little brain cells I have
left. Plus I am sleepy, well that might be due to the lack of sleep (lol)
So my Red Bull is back. With our 1st draft deadline quickly approaching and needing to double check my journal prompts... I am thinking I need to hurry up and

Get ahold of yourself Lois
Where is superman when I could use him to fly me around to differnt places in San Antonio, plus I could have used him when I went to SAMM's , I was being followed by someone under the bridge. Note to self, next time I might want to take a "superman" with me.....
anyone know where i can find one?!

posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/25/2006 11:24:00 AM   2 comments
Rage Against The Machine
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Rage Against The Machine - Sleep Now In The Fire

check out this video

You have to check out this
band in concert !!!
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/24/2006 09:09:00 AM   0 comments
Walk downtown
Thursday, June 22, 2006
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Today we toured San Fernando Cathedral. I did not know that this church held so much history.
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San Fernando was founded on March 9, 1931 by 15 families who came from the Canary Islands. This is the oldest church in San Antonio.
This church like the lives it touches has gone through many trials, hardships, and loss, but it has persevered.

The first thing that will captivate you is back of the church where out of 15, 000 leaf sheets of gold were used to create where the four apostles Luke, John, Matthew, and Mark, surrond Christ on the Cross.

As you walk the Stations of the Cross you will take note of the detail in the faces, as well as the colors used to create the journey to Calvary.
The one piece that will touch you is the recreated sculpture of Mary holding her son, Jesus, as she looks up to heaven for some sort of relief, an answer, and a desperate look of needing help. If you look closely you can see the sadness in her eyes, as if tears had just dropped. (The original was destroyed by a mentally ill person along with other antique statues)

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Our tour was completed by a story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Although I have heard this story many time before and, even taught it at CCD, I learned something new. The ropes that the Virgin is holding in her hands in Aztec symbolize pregnancy. This is said to be the only image of Our Lady that depicts her as being with the Christ Child. Never knew that, I'll have to ask Sister Rita more about that, when I find my way back to church.

Our walk to the Governor’s palace was not long. We rounded the corner and we were there.

I could not take part in the tour too well, because of an overwhelming headache I got. It felt like a migrant and I got nauseous all of a sudden. I had to keep going outside to get a breath of air. Even than the sun hurt my eyes and I felt light headed. My body is starting to come off this little rush I've been on. I have not had a chance to rest and now, when I need to be focused, I want to sleep. But I can’t. Let's blame this headache on the tear gas side effects and irritating people side effects (no, not anyone in my group, they are all great).

The interesting information that I did get was that of the way law breaking citizens were dealt with. Criminals were branded on the right hand. And some time, if the crime was severe, hung on the tree. We were shown a tree that 24 (sorry, my professor is going to be upset, but I did not write down) I think its 24 people were hung. He said to look closely, it's (the tree) starting to grow faces. Twenty four of them, this is eerie. I could'nt really focus on it too much as my pounding head was distracting me.
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Thank goodness Jewels had some sort of medication. She said "You might just want to take one", ummmm, No. I'll take both, I can’t function.

Now if she only had medication to help me function in life.

I was glad to head back after that field trip. I came home physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. I hope for a better day tomorrow. I can not and will not have more than one day of this. I will my self not to. I'll let you know tomorrow if that works.

I thought this was appropriate for our visit today......

Come unto me, ye who are weary and overburdened, and I will give you rest. - Matthew 11:28
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/22/2006 07:54:00 AM   0 comments
Missions A walk back in time
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Ever have one of those days where you felt like you were just walking through time. As if you could go back and see what life was like in the past?

As we exited our temporary transportation device, good ole motor van, we seemed to enter into a new world. One that called for exploration. Our first stop Mission San Francisco de la Espada.

First thing noted was Brendan, but we will call him HESUTU today * (miwok Indian name) climbing on the limestone walls, he looked like he was on the look out for an Apache or Comanche raid , than his brother in adventure, Alex will call him AKECHETA today* (Sioux name) was quick to start his one man hunting party.

Seeing booth of them with their eagerness to explore made me take flight too.

Walking into Espada, you could feel the peace of the day. The weather was perfect. I kept closing my eyes and just listening to nature calling me away and the whispering of the wind in my ears telling me fell the grounds that our ancestors once walked. Indians, and Spaniards journeyed here to this very site.

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First the brick doorways, rough but almost a passage way to history. Mary , let's give her an Indian name too, POLIKWAPTIWA *(from the Hopie Indians) tells us a story about the doors arch way at the entrance of the church. The bricks were put in reverse, but also noted by a friend of mine is that the structure has lasted longer because of that mistake.
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As you walk inside the church the smell of incense surrounds you. Being raised a strong catholic that I was, I quickly looked for the holy water to bless myself in. I double checked to make sure the door closed behind us and that none of the cats had walked in.

What must have those who sought refuge here from starvation and enemy's must have felt. To walk into a church with new "idols" for them to worship. That the trade for their life was to give their life, to a new God. The Christian God, and be baptized Christian with now a Catholic faith and a new language and culture.

Mission Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion de Acuna, (whew) was just as beautiful, but Espada held my heart now. Concepcion seemed to bring me back from my temporary mind time travel.

The first room to right is dedicated to private prayer. The drawing on the wall is a depiction of Christ on the Cross. I wonder, when the Indians drew or created these works of art, did they understand what they were drawing? Do artist draw from the heart, soul or with passion of knowledge of their creation? Or are their works just that works, not art to them if there is no heart, soul or passion. I'll have to ask Brendan and Alex that question if I remember next time I see them.
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Although this was not my first trip to the missions I found it the most enjoyable. I loved learning from my professors, and fellow classmates. I think I learned that by combing the cultures of Native American and Spaniards there was a cultivation of new ideas and way of life that help ensure survival.

*Here are the meanings of the temporary Indian names I gave my fellow classmates.

Mary: POLIKWAPTIWA: Hopi name meaning "butterfly sitting on a flower."

Brendan: HESUTU: Miwok name meaning "yellow jacket nest rising out of the ground

Alex: AKECHETA: Sioux name meaning "fighter"

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posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/20/2006 09:03:00 PM   0 comments
This is what Democracy Looks Like
WOW, I thought in this day and age that tear gas, and harassment of peaceful protestors was only done in countries with no constitutional rights. That America, although a young country could not possibly partake in such violence and unlawfulness against its own people.


We returned back today to SAC. I couldn’t get any sleep, I woke up early. I wanted to get back to a routine of things, I felt like my kids at school, I need a schedule I need consistency.

I was excited to see Mel when she walked in than Gayle; we greeted each other with hugs. Than Liz came walking in. Another round of hugs. Mel said it perfect there is no way we can lose touch with each other. Not after what we've been through. I agree.

To go through the events, and the emotions we did with each other automatically bounds you to one another. I’m still trying to process what all happened and how we walked down those streets.

Denise and Karen started us right off with work. It felt good, yet another "comfort food". Food for the brain. Karen went over what made a civilization and what made a culture. We had to read the history of Oaxaca in our handbooks (I had to go buy another book, I left mine in Oaxaca during our rush to exit the hotel)

In reading the history of Mexico, I am getting really interested in learning more about where my great-grandmother came from. My grandmother has told me stories about her father and Poncho Villa, how they helped him and gave him refuge at their ranch, but I just kindly listened, now I want to learn from them.

Than we saw a video, that was produced and directed by Jill Freidberg and Rick Rowley. The film was intense and heart breaking, I did pretty good until the part where you knew they were going to get tear gassed. My tears started flowing down, I told my self don’t cry. This is the past. The events happened in 1999, only seven years ago! The events recorded on film were that of a peaceful protest in Seattle. 50,000 people, of different nationalities, organizations and religious beliefs came together. To protest against the World Trade Organization (WTO).

I could not help but think again of what we saw in Oaxaca, tear gas falling. Where did the children go? Questions, questions, no answers.

This is a very powerful film. As Rage Against the Machine music plays in the background I start getting a little pumped up thinking, we should be doing something here in San Antonio to support the teachers in Oaxaca. Some how we need to let the people know here what is going on.

Why didn’t I go back? I could hear Denise in her official "mom" voice in my head saying do not go past the park. I should have gone back and got right in the action of things but than I guess I would be running for my life too. But the adrenaline rush and the feeling of being there and not really being there over takes you. It took my own voice of reason (small one) to say no let's not go back, let's not go past the park.

My eyes, my heart and my mind have been opened to my nievness of the world, people and government in another country as well as in ours. As I search deep in me of who I am and what is my purpose, I yearn to learn more about my heritage. Where are my roots? What is driving me?

Question, questions again, yet still trying to find answers.

I use to think, I am an American, not a Mexican-American, and I don’t know why people support Mexico as if they lived there. How stupid, arrogant, and selfish of me. And if you know me even a little, you know that I am not any of those things. But I am willing to open my mind up to new things. Something a teacher shouted up to me while on the roof hit me harder than a ton of bricks.

Go back and tell them in Los Estados Unidos- United States, tell them what is happening. That we were just sitting hear peacefully. Tell them because we have families there they need to know, and because you are from here, we are the same people.

Yes I forgot we are the same people, we are all humans. No matter what we look like, we all have this in common. We are human beings no better or less than our neighbor.

We are blessed to live in America where we have freedom, to hold a peaceful protest, freedom of speech, but here too I discovered today with our film, that those rights have been taken away by those we turn to that are suppose to protect us.

I have been set on fire (as if I needed another passion) by my peers, professors and grandmother. My thirst for more information is taken on a new quest for me.

Please link to the following site to get more information about the film. I am going to see how I can get a copy or order one online. I think everyone needs to see this film and be awaken to our own battles in the USA.

"Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others."
--From the January 27, 1838 Lyceum Address, Abraham Lincoln
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/20/2006 07:37:00 AM   2 comments
The singing of Mexico's National Anthem woke me up
Friday, June 16, 2006
These are only some of the photos make sure to see my classmates blogs we were all taking pictures. Mila has some great photos! She wants to be a photo journalist. I will keep uploading as fast as I can.

I woke up thinking is that smoke I smell? Than the sound of chants and songs, started ringing in my ears, as all my senses were awakening.

It was a quarter to five, I was thinking, they (the teachers) are either up really early or have not gone to bed. I did not have much time to figure it out because the burning sensation in my throat started to take over.

I went to the balcony and asked Liz what are they singing and saying?

Liz said, "Mexico's national anthem"

Than I inquired what is that smell?

"I think fireworks" she said.

“It burns,” I said.

As I looked up to the sky seeing nothing but the light from the full moon, I headed back to bed disappointed not to see any fireworks. As I sat down on my bed, my eyes were getting the sameintense burning, as if someone had poured hot sauce into them.

Mel exclaimed out of nowhere from her bed, "Close the window and balcony door, that's tear gas!"

We quickly did and turned on the fan as the room was filling with the colorless gas. I began coughing and feeling nauseated.

Mel said "take slow breaths and breathe with your shirt."

"You can get sick with it" she was able to mention as she started coughing too.

I became very worried about her since she is asthmatic. Liz seemed the least bothered by it. The air became breathable after a while. We settled down and laid listing to the chants slowly drifting back to dreamland. Unaware of the chaos that we were to awaken to.

As our alarm went off at 7 am, I looked and the girls who were still asleep. I turned it off thinking they needed extra time today and we would still be ok if I let them sleep a little longer.

About five minutes later Denise, one of our professors, was pounding on the door. Liz jumped off the bed and ran to answer it. The pounding of the door took over as pounding in our hearts, as she was giving us a report of what we already knew had happen; tear gas has been dropped on the protesting teachers. What we didn't know that it was more than just one canister, several. The teachers were attacked last night by the police, she went on to say and we are now barricaded in.

"I think it's best that we stay here today and not go on our field trip", Denise said.

We all agreed. As she exited down our stairs Liz jumped up, put on her shoes, grabbed her video camera and was out the door, Mel quickly followed. I got up, changed and was out the door too. I had to get to the roof top to join my roommates.

At the top of the roof I looked down, to the left and to the right of me were 80 plus police officers, suited up in riot gear. It looked like something straight out of a movie. In each corner block they stood there with their police-baton stick in one hand and their shield in the other, as if getting ready for a great battle.

About 2 blocks to the left of us were the teachers that had been forced to evacuate their make shift house of plastic tarps, tents, and carport covers.The sea of covered tarps were now scattered all over the streets. Teddy bears, clothes, and propane stoves were displaced from their owners.A helicopter flew overhead dropping canisters of tear gas all around us.

We were forced to retreat to our rooms; the feeling of suffocation was too much for us to bear.We are not sure what is going to happen next.

The following is video taken while we were in our hotel not knowing what was going to happen next.

Here is a video of us sitting in an office trying to get some photos out to the express news and ACCD in San Antonio.

This video shows Mila, Brendan, and Jewellet trying to recover from teargas stinging their eyes.

Here is Gale and Liz speaking to one of the hotels employees.
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/16/2006 02:33:00 PM   3 comments
Night time in Oaxaca
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Our second night brought us back to the same little resturant we ate at the nigt before. We fell in love with the surroundings, the hospitality, and of course the food. I had never heard of most of the items on the menu.

As we finished our dinner, a band started playing outside. Listen to the video. Pay attention to the indigeous people that walk by. The video was taken just outside the Zocolo. Jewlet, Mila, Mel, Liz and myself were stuffed when we decided to walk it off at the Zocalo.

Night time still holds many vendors and warm smells of food cart vendors. Mel, said lets get back before dark, ummm yea, not going to happen. The Zocalo and the surronding blocks are filled with a sea of tarps. Teachers are sitting in (this is their fourth week) they live, sleep and eat under their new home. You can see many signs, and teachers on mega phones peacfully stating their needs. Higher wages, is on the top of the list.

The Photos show what we saw of the way the tarps were set up and some of the political signs we have seen

The video was taken as we walked to the bus stop earlier today

As we walked around we were being drawn in to all the handmade blouses, toys, folk art and jewlery. We meet a man, I forget his name now, (sorry did'nt have my reporters notebook) I'll have to ask Liz, she video taped him. He made beautiful jewlery. His work made us stop and sit down in front of him. I bought a jade mask, breath taking, and a rope braclete and necklace with jade. Liz had the treasure, a necklace with a mask, and jade and beads made out of seeds. When she asked how does this look on me, as she tried it on, I said, "awfull", I laughed and said "just kidding, it's because I want to buy it.

As we walked back to our rooms, we talked about the beauty of Oaxaca and it's people. The excitement of seeing what other beauty we would encounter tomorrow.
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/13/2006 10:58:00 PM   0 comments
Visit to El Instituto Tecnologica de Oaxaca
The sounds of chirping birds woke me up at 6:15 this morning. They seemed to be communicating with each other as if discussing the day’s activities. I lay listening to them, as 6:45 am rolled around the chirping slowed into a song, what a relaxing way to get up.

I had a restless first night. I did not sleep so well, I thought about my children at home and missed them.
My mobile phone alarm rang 7:00 am, time for me to get up. We are on our own for breakfast, we just had to be in the lobby by 10:00 am to meet Anna Maria, we were going to tour the El Instituto Tecnologica de Oaxaca.
Gale and I ate tamales from a food cart before we left for the ITO. I had chili verde, they had chicken and green chilies, not like our tamales, but a little bit spongier. Gale had tamale de mole, which looked like ours back home. Both were very good. Plus I only spent 5 peso or .50 cents for breakfast.

Gale Marsch holding her mole taco and hot chocolate

The Institute currently has 4,500 students enrolled and its goal it to have 5,000 students enrolled by next semester. The enrollment process is different than the United States. Potential students need to apply and pass an exam to be considered for enrollment, not everyone who applies can get in since there is a limited capacity-5,000 that can be taught.

Students can earn accredited degrees in Accounting, Math, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, and Administration.

After being greeted and briefed on the Institutes history and goals we were escorted to listen to a presentation by Dr. Pedro Moldonado Cruz, a former graduate and teacher of the Institute. He gave, with great details, research about the poverty in Oaxaca.

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Anna Maria, Dr. Cruz, Dr. Denise Richter

It’s sad to know that 85 percent of the states population lives at or below the poverty line, of 80 pesos a day per four family members that is saying a family of four lives off of an average of $8.00 per day. There are so many different factors to look at as to why families are living like this.

The detail and research that the Dr. Cruz put into his presentations was impressive. He also spoke about “futurology” of how to try and have the economic growth needed to change the statistics.

There needs to be (to name only a few)

  • Better Lines of communications
  • Better conditions for business in Mexico
  • Improvement of the quality of education

I learned a lot about the states poverty level today.

Here are some more pictures going to and around the ITO

posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/13/2006 05:04:00 PM   0 comments
Exploring We Will Go
Monday, June 12, 2006
My first day at Oaxaca was getting my bearings. As we exited off the plane and into the small airport we were shuffled to the line to declare or country and sign our visa. Don't lose this slip of paper; you need it to board the plane to leave the country. AHHHH papers dont go well with me, Angie and Jeannette I can really use your help now.

As we boarded our taxi we were greeted with the beauty and smells of Oaxaca. You could smell the lavender as we drove off and made our way to our first destination, our hotel, Casa de la Tia. The cars moved so fast and the streets are a very tight fit. We arrived at the corner of our street and were dropped off. It was crazy in the middle of the street. Ok Dorothy your not in Kansas anymore

The main objective for the day was to get food, figure out how to get to and from the hotel, and explore!

Photos are when we first arrived and 1st meal at Hotel Posada del Virrey

After eating at and getting a quick tour of the Zocalo, from Anna Maria, our tour guide who is also a teacher at El Instituto Technologica de Oaxaca, Denise said, Your own your own now to explore!

First stop Templo de la Soledad a breath taking church that gave us, Liz, Mila, Mel and Jewelette much comfort. We were glad we got to Oaxaca safely and were ready to start our exploration.

Some of the pictures are of the inside of the church. I have to admit looking at them, they do not show the how magnificent and spiritual filling this church brought to me as I walked around in amazement of its breath taking beauty.

Out side the church as Liz and I waited for the rest of our fellow explores to come out we were treated to a soccer game being played by local boys. See the video below.

posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/12/2006 10:09:00 PM   0 comments
Last Call, Leaving San Antoinio to Oaxaca
As I entered the airport at 5:29 I felt like everyone was staring at me. I had two bags to roll, two carry on bags, and 13 little brown bags filled with goodies for my fellow classmates. Yes I looked like I was going away, forever. The bags made me feel silly. Paul just dropped me off and I thought wow, I am really doing this, on my own, no family members, since he did not offer to help take my bags in I was thinking, and no one to take care of but me, yikes, that is scary because I am a handful.

Than I saw Mary walk in the doors, whew, a familiar face. We made our way to the rest of our group Brendon, Mel, Denise, and Liz were already there. I am glad I told myself 5 a.m. because I know I run 30 minuets late all the time.

As we were hurried off to check in we had to go through and have our bags scanned, my laptop removed from the bag and my shoes off. Denise was hurrying us along, since the plane was getting ready to depart and we were the last to board. I know that does not surprise many of you that I would be the last to board the plane. We even ran through the airport with our shoes off. I know you can imagine that.

As we ascended into the air our plane soared into raspberry blue cotton candy clouds. They were so fluffy that if my son Jacob was here I know he would think he could eat them.

We landed at Houston’s busy airport right at 8 am and than began another crazy race to our next flight. Boy my legs are already hurting, I need to get in shape! And for those of you wondering, yes I have already had my first Red Bull for the day.

I am now on the flight to Oaxaca we are scheduled to arrive at 11:27 central time. Brenda our flight attended smiles as she offers me a drink. She hands me a coke can that is really cute. It is from Thai, ill have to save the can for my grandma the big coke fan.

The captain says the weather is 62 degrees. What a way to start our trip with beautiful weather. The forecast says it’s supposed to rain. That’s ok I know we will still have fun.

Well time for me to eat cheerios; listen to Linkin Park while I catch up on my school reading. Karen and Denise like to keep us well informed.

Enjoy the first of many photos to come
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/12/2006 06:08:00 PM   0 comments
Memories of my past- SAMMinistries
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Preparing for lunch at St. Vincent De Paul was a fun task.
Mel, Liz and I got started right away with setting up the donuts, after our 1st assignment was completed, we spread out and jumped into different areas. There was much to do before lunch could be served.

We served 173 lunches. The preparations consisted of cutting potatoes, dividing up pie pieces, and slicing red tomatoes, among many other tasks. I assisted in washing dishes (yes I did do that), and making peanut butter sandwiches.

Liz and I than became the "hostess", we helped those with medical conditions, on walkers, as well as mothers with young children get their trays and drinks.

As the flow of hungry people started into the dining area, my heart sank.

Women, children, elderly and medically fragile. Some with somber looks, others with polite nods passed us by. Liz and I served as "hostess" assisting anyone that needed help with their trays.

When the men started coming in I had to walk away, almost running to the restroom.

Memories and tears started rushing in faster than the people. I was filled with emotion. I started remembering that my uncle would stay here. He would choose to live out in the streets instead of at home with my grandmother. Why would he do that? I asked myself. My grandmother would worry about him so much. We would look for him under trees, bridges, even visiting SAMMinistries, and find him. Was he more at home here?

As we helped and greet the flow of people coming in we would smile and get a smile back or even a hello, how are you. Many of the people coming in were polite, we heard please, and thank you many times. Than there were some that looked like they were just in their own world (like me sometimes), just going with the flow, maybe not sure where they were headed, or not sure what they wanted or needed in life.

It's comforting to know that SAMMinistries has always been around for those who need it and needed it in the past. That all those times when we worried if my uncle had something to eat, that he did have somewhere to go and find a warm meal.

SAMMinistries mission is to help the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless attain self-sufficiency by offering, with dignity and compassion, shelter, housing and services.

Seeing today the wonderful work that St. Vincent de Paul, who manages the dining area, does I see the mission not only as a vision but a reality.

I walked out of there thankful that Silva Nhaera, who is the dining room manager, is there and that volunteers like us and others can come together and help, if only for a day.

If you want to make a change, not in someone's life but your own, go and volunteer, go and see the faces that need to be feed, clothed and welcomed. Than go home and see the face in the mirror that needs to be feed, with inspiration and faith, clothed with warmth from friends, and welcomed into society. We are not that different, in fact we are the same, human beings walking through life. Sometimes happy, sometimes with a blank stare, not knowing where we are going. Maybe we think we are rich because we have the roof over our head, warm water and food, and maybe they think we are poor, because our society lacks in compassion, empathy and respect for each other.
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/11/2006 06:45:00 PM   2 comments
Mel's Interview
Friday, June 09, 2006
This is me testing out what i can do on blogger
so i one applogize that the video is side ways
now i know, not to turn the camera when shooting
because there is not a way to change it.
I am trying this out so when i do go to oaxaca ill have it
down and you can see more of the beauty !
Thank you to Mel for allowing me to interview you
more to come about my experience at SAMMinistries
in my next blog, it took me a while to get this down
stay tune !

mel's interview at SAMMinistries
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/09/2006 05:14:00 PM   1 comments
My class

Meet my classmates, I would tell you their names but one of them is wanted. Just kidding, some want to remain nameless, if you come to my house, I'll tell you whose who! But I can tell you this, I look forward to getting to know each one. They all seem so intresting and a lot of them like to do the same thing I do, volunteer and help others! The above photo was taken at Stan Morgan's house. You can read more about him in my other blog. Below are the photos we took for our international ID.
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/09/2006 05:13:00 PM   2 comments
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Our day was filled with art again, as we visted the house of Mr. Stan Morgan. I could say so much about the art but you will want to take a look at the pictures and let them speak to you.

Stan visits Oaxaca at least four times a year! My favorite piece was the girraffe and the crosses. I hope to bring back many different crosses along with other pieces.

The hospitality that was offered at his home was beyond words. How greatful we were to have the opportunity to preview the color and art that we will be exposed to starting Monday. Yes Monday that soon.
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/08/2006 10:47:00 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Another field trip was in order for today. Our school district would be going through the roof if we had this many field trips. This might be a reason why children have lost interest in learning. No fun creative ways to present the material to them. I am sure glad I'm an ACCD student and not a Public School one. I am having so much fun learning about different organizations that provide assistance to our community.

Our van headed south of San Antonio College into the west side of town to one of the AVANCE, locations at 1103 S San Jacinto.
We were greeted by Marisa Chapa who is the Parent Educator and Center Director,who has been with AVANCE for 20 years. You could tell by her warm smile that this was going to be a "warm fuzzy" kind of tour.

AVANCE provides support and education services to low-income families, AVANCE strengthens the families unit, enhances parenting skills which nurture the optimal development of children, promotes educational success and fosters the personal and economic success of parents.

We learned that AVANCE has a strong belief in that parents are the first teachers of their children. Their goal is to break the cycle of poverty and by providing parents opportunities to learn how to be parents they are making major break troughs here in San Antonio

The center we visited was the named after a board member that was killed in a car accident on June 30, 1997 coming from Laredo to San Antonio, Carmen Prieto Cortez.

The non profit organization has different sites around San Antonio. I was surprised to find out that there was one on my southside. The Raul Jimenez Center is located at 114 W. Vestal and I am putting it on my to go and visit list. I think this is a great organization for some of my connections to get involved in.

Yessinia Gonzales, Program Manager for the westside site said it best when she said that AVANCE is the "hidden secret" as she spoke about why there was not a waiting list. As well as how they go door to door to try and help the families that need assistance.

I hope to let that secret out in my area. I am already making plans of what sort of donations we can do and how we can help that location.

Parents go through a nine month program. The program consists of teaching parents how to play with their children, how to use resources in their house t create learning items for the children, and lessons on child development. Guest speakers are brought in to also educate parents on issues at hand.

The center assisted more than 250 people this past session and had 92 parents cross the stage with 148 children.

You could tell by listening to each of the staff members that they were very proud of their little stars or "Estrellitas". Each beamed as they spoke about AVANCE and all the opportunities it offered to families.

Sarah Longoria, a teacher in the young toddler area is an AVANCE graduate. She is now perusing a degree with San Antonio College. In fact I was impressed to find out that all their staff there were attending college.

In 32 years AVANCE has made changes in parents lives that thought there was no hope for them. Mothers and now fathers that go through their program find confidence in themselves and belief that they can make it.

posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/07/2006 11:22:00 PM   0 comments
What is Art?
Tuesday, June 06, 2006

They say that art is in the eye of the beholder. When you look at a painting what do you see? Do you just see what your eyes show you or do you let your imagination explore the art?

Our class theme today should have been "Your Brain on Art" I had such a visual stimulation that my head actually hurt after we left the San Antonio Museum of Art. I think both sides of my brain were used as i gathered information about the art and tried to analyise the artist process of his/her choice of color, shape, foundation and reason for their creation.

The museum of art is located at 200 W Jones Ave. and if you go on Tuesday afternoon afther 4:00 p.m. you get in at no charge.

We gathered awaiting all our classmates to start our tour. Some of us explored the gift shop. Alex and Brendon actually sang a song to one of the items "Ring my Bell", I thought was very funny seeing that Alex is very quiet in our class.

And with the "ringing of the bell" or Karens voice saying "Walk through the gift shop, walk through it", meaning don't stop and shop. No, she was not only talking to me, but to the whole class. Nevertheless I ran through to avoid the temptation of the Asian section.

Our tour began with a lecture from Karen about the structure of the art museum and the way the art is displayed to have the visitor enjoy it with complementary lighting and casing. We were divided up in teams to explore the following sections and than report back to the class.

Pre-columbian, which referes to the time in the Americas before the sixteenth century- before Christopher Columbus.

Folk Art, which was Alex, Liz and my section is generally produced by people who have little or no academic artistic training and use established techniques and styles of a particular region or culture. My favorite piece in this sections, well there were a couple of them, the masks that are now used in dances, the painting of the "Tree of Life" which was done by a mexican nun, and a wooden shoe box that was painted like a fire truck.

Colonial Art, is represented in reflections of saints, and religous depictions of our Lady of Guadalupe many of times.

Modern Art was introduced in the late 19th century and had a new view on art, that no longer needed a reprensitation of the subject but could be shown realistly with photgraphy.

Our time passed by too fast, is this how it's going to be in Oaxaca not enough time to intake it all or explore it all? That might be why we might as well start planning a second trip there.

Art is truely in the eyes of the beholder. We all had a favorite item, all our items were artistic, and unique and as each presentor pointed out the beauty of it's beholder.

If you have not visted the SAMA you need to put it on your tour list of San Antonio, you will leave there with a true enrishment of art. You will also have "Art on the Brain" for a while to come. Yes, brain food

posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/06/2006 11:04:00 PM   0 comments
Brain Food Needed
Monday, June 05, 2006
Today went by very fast. Our class time mostly consisted of traveling to Incarnet Word Univirsity to pay for our International I.D. than to Palo Alto for those who needed to get their textbooks and financial aid checks. The time seemed to fly by rather quickly. Which was good seeing that I was running on very little sleep because of our trip from El Paso (we did not get to bed until 1:30 a.m.) I've been trying to feed myself brain food, but can't seem to get my thoughts together. I do know that it is due to lack of sleep. As I look at the clock 11:00 p.m. I think there is so much I want to say, but can't due to my brain lacking function. So rather than typing mambo jumbo I leave you with good night. But tomorrow, whew look out, I'll be back.
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/05/2006 10:51:00 PM   1 comments
Pictures say a thousand words
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Ever wonder how a picture can capture what not only our eyes but our senses take in? Can a picture say a thousands words? Along my journey I hope to fulfill all your senses with photos and description.

As we got settled in today our senses awakened. Our instructor, Karen brought a slide show (yes a good old fashion slide show) the first photo was one of a bright red bougainvillea that was calling on us to awe in her beauty. Different photos followed, some of Monte Alban, who's name has changed in the past. One of the previous names of the city was "Sahandevul" which means "at the foot of the sky". The most interesting picture to me was one that depicted Mary and Christ on the cross on an archway of a ruin. A lot of the of the ruins are decading away due to lack of funding to help preserve a city so full of Spanish colonial buildings. All the slides captivated me and made my anticipation grow even more. I am ready to smell the bougainvilleas, climb the pyramids, and of course my favorite American pass time shopping! I think I'll wear the same clothes and come back with nothing but treasures.

Tomorrow I will be out due because I will be going to El Paso with my family to watch my 7 year old (who is a brown belt) compete in a karate tournament. Our class will be going on it's first field trip to the S.A. food bank. They are going to be learning about the food bank and actually working by ether packing food or moving boxes. Don't think that I am out of this scott free, I'll have to go make this up next week, anyone want to join me? You know I make things fun!

Next week Karen will be bringing in information about Juan Diego, who according to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to him in 1531. The reason this is important in the state of Mexico is she is said to have appeared to a poor indian at Tepeyac, a hill Northwest of Mexico City. Our Lady of Guadalupe (also known as the Virgin Mary) is Mexico's patron saint. Even more so important to me is because of my faith and belief. Although Juan Diego's cloak is not in Oaxaca but in Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City the states of Mexico reflect the strong faith through their artistic work. Karen told us to be ready to choice from differnt textiles, wood, black clay, and tin. Yes, I'll be a good student and buy one, or two, or a lot of each, after all I need to get the full experience.
posted by Melissa Rodriguez @ 6/01/2006 07:11:00 PM   1 comments
About Me

Name: Melissa Rodriguez
Home: San Antonio, Texas, United States
About Me: New me, not the same one that started out in the begining of the summer. Oaxaca and what I saw here in SA changed me. I use to think I did a lot, volunteer for organizations, chair events. blablabla. But there is sooo much more to do! And i learned not to be afraid. Not that I was scared of things before. But not to be afraid to venture out and ask questions. Or to say NO! And to ask why something can't happen. To be in the middle of all that and not knowing what tomorrow held. Finding out who really loved you when you called home, who was waiting for your call.. maybe my last call, that woke me up to what i want for my life....New me ..braver, more aggressive, and more FOCUS than ever on a GOAL! UPDATE: one goal completed since last updated: i graduating w/ my AA in PR! 2nd goal going to OLLU for my BS. 3rd goal: WE ARE GOING BACK TO OAXACA!!!
See my complete profile
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