Newsletter 2, sent out December 21st, 2015 (my half birthday! 🙂 ) If you’d like to be on my mailing list, please leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Gracia y paz a ustedes, mis querid@s. Saludos desde la Ciudad de México.
Dear ones, grace and peace to you. Greetings from Mexico City.

When it happens, you can feel nothing else. You’re so full of love, belonging, gratitude, and joy that your chest raises high, almost lifting you off the ground. Your cheeks burn from smiling. And maybe when this overwhelming ride subsides, a tear falls in thankfulness spiked with relief.

These moments indicate I’m no longer new. They are sweet moments of fulfillment and security that yes, I’m part of this familia, this fútbol team/league, this organization. I’m 3 months in and though some days I’m doused with the reality of how much I have yet to learn and experience, that in a year I’ll likely not achieve, I’m at a place I hoped for. I’m at a place where often I think my time here seems too short.

Here are some of the bits of my vida cotidiana, daily life, that have brought me to this place of joy in my Mexico City context:

  • Two days a week my host sister Karla picks me up in the morning to go running on a dirt track about 1.3 kilometers around. It’s the perfect start to the day, enjoying the morning outside and getting in my favorite form of exercise in, topped off by great conversations on our way back. She’s always patient with my Spanish mistakes, makes me laugh, takes time to make sure I understand things, and has my full confidence in whatever I need to say. Notably, I feel like my personality shows through when I’m with Karla. My host mom and I agree; we’re always in a better mood after spending time with her.

    Host sister Karla, her husband Victor Hugo, and I at karaoke, a pretty common activity here.
  • In the afternoons at ProDESC, the human rights organization where I work, my manager Greta and I have begun the horrible habit of buying chocolate covered raisins, pasitas con chocolate. Greta is a lively, passionate, thoughtful, and talented 28 year old who has over 54,000 followers on Instagram. We cross the street to the slightly racist man who wears very short running shorts that show off his muscular legs (a normal cross country outfit in the states but an abnormal outfit in MX) and pay 8 pesos for our treat.
  • My host nephews, 6 and 9 years old, have finally stopped being timid with me and game on, now we get to have fun! We play soccer (Luis and I versus Hugito). Luis and I color. Hugito and I read out loud together. He gets to practice reading and I get to practice my Spanish- all good things!
  • Morning walks before I go into work. I arrive at the metro stop by my work usually an hour early and spend that time moving around outside before I sit enclosed at a desk or in meetings for 8 hours.
  • When in Mexico, become a soccer fan. Without a doubt, one of the best things I’ve done here in Mexico for myself was joining my sister’s women’s soccer league. Another YAGM, Gracia, and I now are a part of the indoor team Girls United. We play and practice on a little field on the roof of a gym. We’ve made wonderful friends from many teams, I’ve improved my soccer skills (I got the nickname la destroyer, but I firmly believe that the ball is only yours if I can’t get it away from you), and our team is doing well, holding a solid 3rd place in the current tournament.

    My team, Girls United, in red. Karla’s team in black. And our little field with an amazing view.
  • Lunch conversations at ProDESC are rich, thought-provoking, and engaging. (If only every class I’ve taken proved to be like this!!) I’ve learned things ranging from the history of the chair to Mexican slang. We’ve dug into topics such as gun control, freedom of speech versus impingement on others’ rights, the brilliant invention of menstrual cups, the influence of corporate powers on globalization, and feminism. Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. These conversations with such diverse, experienced, and intelligent people teach me so much in addition to all I learn about human rights defense, communications, and the cases ProDESC accompanies while working.
  • The last leg of my daily metro journey is only three stops and the trains are always packed tight, sardine cans of human beings. I still love this part however because the metro is above ground and I get to look out on city sparkling in the darkness. The night blankets the contamination. The city lights steal away the stars above, but there’s a beauty in its vast, bright expanse below.

I hope to share with you a more in depth look at the human rights work my organization carries out as well as the human rights situation in Mexico in an upcoming newsletter, some thoughts on Christmas, as well as more about the beautiful familia I have become a part of. Until then, my dear friends and family, enjoy this Advent season. My thoughts are with you all and I pray we continue to seek hope, courage, joy, and love. Thank you for your continuing support, thoughts and prayers. I know I’m never walking this journey alone.