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Oaxaca Institute: Closing Reflections

It’s a good problem to have to be too busy learning (and so exhausted from the learning!) to update your blog about all of the adventures you are experiencing. That was definitely the case last month during Paridad’s Language, Culture, & Art Institute in Oaxaca, Mexico. While my intention was to update this blog daily, it was soon clear that I wasn’t going to be able to pull myself away from the daily cultural excursions, delicious meals, riveting conversations with participants, speakers, and artists, and time spent walking through the magical city of Oaxaca to sit alone in front of my computer screen in my hotel room and type.

My fellow Paridad Associate, Olivia Mulcahy, wrote a blog post about her reflections on Oaxaca, Guelaguetza, and the jargon of adult learning. I believe she captured the experience beautifully from the perspective of a Paridad team member and Institute facilitator. In an effort to bookend my August 3 blog post on initial reflections of the Institute, I wanted to let our participants’ own words and pictures serve as the closing reflection. My Paridad colleagues and I remarked repeatedly during the trip about how eager, insightful, and dedicated this particular group of educators was so it seems fitting that their words serve as the epilogue to this experience.

One of my favorite moments was when he [Bulmaro Perez Muñoz] spoke to us in the Zapotec language. It sounded so much like Native American languages in the USA. I also felt transported to another time. It was meaningful that he was speaking in the context of that sacred room where only important and spiritual matters are carried out. - Heather Fee-Alvarez, 4th Grade Dual Language Teacher, North Shore School District 112

My favorite part of today was at El Tule. Before, we talked about children hustling at el Zocalo, however, this was a perfect example of the power of education. These kids were rewarded for being good students. They were being allowed to make a living because they were educated. I think for them it is a great example of how education and knowledge can open so many doors and take you places. It gave me an idea of having my preschoolers talk and show their work to others. I think that if they are able to put their creations into words it will help them demonstrate a true understanding of what they have learned. - Tamara Negron-Velez, Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist, North Shore School District 112

I enjoyed seeing the different regional dances. It kind of made me sad since the American culture doesn't have anything like that to call our own. However, it does make sense since we are a combination of so many different cultures and ethnicities. It was just powerful to see all of the Oaxacans cheering on the dancers and showcasing their pride and love for their country. - Alexie Downey, 6th Grade ELA Teacher, North Shore School District 112

Some Haikus in Spanish:

Vida bonita

En un Pueblo pequeno

Colores viven

Cuando piensas

El mundo es luger mal

Encuentra arte

Arte cambia

Corazons por la mejor

Abrir los ojos

- Meredith Schilsky, 5th/6th Grade Social Worker, Summit School District 104

Top row photos by Barbara Marler (L) and Carina Yepez (R)

Middle row photos by Missy Sinclair (L) and Judith Landeros (R)

Bottom row photos by Meredith Schilsky (L) and Paridad Education Consulting (R)

It has been such an honor and a privilege to be a part of all of the activities we are participating in, especially meeting and learning from the artists. I am blown away by the pride, the culture, the food, the language, everything! It is so much more than I could have hoped for and I am really enjoying soaking it all in. - Jessica Meland, 5th Grade, Dual Language Teacher, North Shore School District 112

I loved our session this morning with Gerardo [de la Barerra, our artist-in-residence]. I'm absorbing all he taught us on Tuesday and today w respect to teaching children to create and appreciate art. I loved having the opportunity to make a print myself, and experience a bit what it is like to be a student in his class. I love that he was consistently noncommittal when I sought his advice about how to proceed with my print. I experienced how this forced me to focus, think things through for myself, and make decisions, exercising my creativity. I loved our walk to lunch and lunch itself. The session with Dr. [Kim] Potowski [visiting professor from University of Illinois-Chicago] was eye-opening, prompting me to think about "retornados" more mindfully. - Patricia Castro, North Shore School District 112

I have noticed a common thread among the artisans we have seen. It's pride in family, accomplishments, and culture. They are also storytellers using their medium and passions. How fortunate I am to experience this. - Debra Bobinsky, ELL/Special Education Teacher & Graduate Instructor, Glenbard East High School & Illinois Resource Center

I have felt like we have done so much these past few days. I am so impressed with the weaver and mezcal tours. I am amazed at the talent each and every person we have met has. - Denise Reyes, 4th Grade Teacher, Summit School District 104

We're connected in more ways than we think. Our similarities are more than our differences. - Jon Baricovich, ELL Director, Summit School District 104

Pictures from Paridad's Oaxaca Institute Closing Ceremony

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