Heather Briscoe NGO Internship ProMexico
When I arrived, the Zocalo (the focus of my project) was a disaster. It was walled off for construction, so the view from the cafes that line it was a hodgepodge of siding and aluminum that left them feeling dim and dingy. The government had started a renovation project without consulting the community and now at the peak tourist season it was far from finished. Two trees were lost, and the old stone was removed for a cement-colored, uniformly shaped replacement. Tears or cracking voices answered when I asked any Oaxaqueño about the Zocalo. They had “ripped out the heart” of Oaxaca. The politics in Mexico are perhaps more gut-wrenching than our own…..something to explore.
In my first days, I wept for the desperation in the grasp of a street child, and for the horrible sounds of a young girl being beaten in the back of a shop. The tears fell wasted at my feet, offering no remedy to the helplessness I felt. I also wept for the beauty I found in the mountain communities and in the perfect summer nights in the Zocalo. Your days here will be full, as we are all here to help as the community sees fit, but don’t forget to take time to wander without direction. Life’s most enriching experiences aren’t often scheduled. Be open. Avoid the reflex that brings judgment.