The worldwide Augustana College experience

MEXICO CHALLENGE Day 1

Hey everyone! When I woke up yesterday and spent a good two hours online before class, I had no idea there would be an upcoming challenge presented to us later that night.  At our ISS meeting last night, Dr. Bertsche, along with the other professors, expressed a concern that we were becoming too comfortable in our surroundings now that we’ve arrived in Mexico. In Ecuador and Peru, we were pretty good about exploring the unfamiliar cultures, but it seems we have become a bit lax now that we are almost home and a lot of our surroundings are a bit more familiar (fast food chains, some stores, etc.) As a result, the teachers have posted the following challenge:

I PROMISE THAT …

1.

I WILL NOT EAT AT A U.S. BASED FAST-FOOD RESTAURANT, NOR WILL I ORDER AMERICAN STYLE FOOD (HAMBURGERS, HOT DOGS, PIZZA, ETC.) AT ANY RESTAURANT.  WHEN EATING OUT, I WILL SEEK OUT TRADITIONAL MEXICAN DISHES WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

2.

I WILL NOT WATCH U.S. TELEVISION BROADCASTING, EITHER AT HOME OR IN A PUBLIC VENUE.  THIS INCLUDES ANY ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILMS WITH SUBTITLES, SPORTS EVENTS BROADCAST FROM THE U.S.A. OR AMERICAN-MADE SERIES.

3.

ON DAYS WHEN THERE ARE BLOCKS OF FREE TIME, I WILL SPEND NO LESS THAN ONE HOUR EITHER VISITING A CULTURAL SITE (MUSEUM, ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE, CONCERT, ETC.) OR IN A PUBLIC PLACE (ZOCALO, MARKET) OBSERVING AND PEOPLE WATCHING IN AN EFFORT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE INTERPERSONAL DYNAMICS AND/OR CULTURE OF THE MEXICAN PEOPLE.

4.

I WILL AT LEAST ONCE PER DAY CARRY ON A CONVERSATION, PREFERABLY IN SPANISH, WITH A MEXICAN CITIZEN ON A TOPIC OTHER THAN A PURCHASE, FOOD ACQUISITION OR OTHER SERVICE TRANSACTION.

5.

I WILL USE THE INTERNET FOR THE NEXT SEVEN DAYS EXCLUSIVELY FOR CLASS-RELATED RESEARCH AND NECESSARY E-MAILS WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS AND AUGUSTANA.  I WILL NOT VISIT U.S. BASED WEBSITES, BEYOND THESE TASKS, INCLUDING SOCIAL NETWORK SITES SUCH AS FACEBOOK.

So there it is: The Mexico Challenge.

As Dr. Betsche was listing off these guidelines, I thought to myself “no problem. I’m doing this already” … Then he got to the internet rule. Now, I’m by no means the worst offender, but that one is going to be tough for me. Facebook especially is a way for me to keep connected with people back home. I’ve been posting pictures, wishing friends at home Happy Birthday… but I suppose I’ve been wasting a bit of time as well. It’ll be difficult being disconnected for a week, but I know it’s possible.

As for the rest of the rules, I’ve already been talking with my host family quite a bit, and I love Mexican food (I’ve only had fast food a few times on this trip… once in Lima and the bus stopped at McDonalds twice in one day on a trip to Mexico City…). I’ve ventured out on my own a few times, but this will be a great opportunity to really observe and learn. And TV and movies? I’ve watched a couple of novelas with my host mom. I’m not big on TV anyway :-)

As the week progresses, I’d like to take this opportunity to document the week and my thoughts especially about the cultural sites. I went to mass on Sunday, but never wrote about it (I shook the bishop’s hand and he blessed my day!) and things like that I’d like to document and remember. So here it goes, Day One of the Mexico Challenge!

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