An Eye-Opening Summer in Mexico City
The partnership between Casa de los Amigos in Mexico City and Haverford's Center for Peace and Global Citizenship began four years ago, when Professor of History James Krippner suggested Casa as a location for summer student internships. Professor Krippner first stayed at the Casa in 1985. Now he visits the Casa yearly to lead a two-week seminar on Mexican history for the CPGC interns. He holds a class every night to discuss readings in Mexican history and contemporary Mexican literature.
Casa is a residential center that was founded as a Center for Peace and International Understanding by the Quaker community in 1956. Now there is a ten-week program for four bi-co students to live at the Casa and work there two days a week, in addition to working at another organization in Mexico City.
Emily Dix '12, Josephine Nyame BMC '13, Elizabeth Pierson '12 and Olivia Swomley '12 are spending their summer with Casa de los Amigos. When they are not working shifts at Casa's reception desk, each spend time at another non-profit in the city. Dix works at the Equilibrium Fund, an international organization that teaches women in marginalized and indigenous communities how to grow and market the Maya Nut for food and income. Pierson works at the Centro de Apoyo a la Mujere (CAM), a support center for women that have suffered violence in their relationships. Swomley and Nyame work at Casa Hogar, a group home for Mexicans living on the streets that allows residents to spend months at the shelter before moving on to their own homes.
The four arrived in Mexico two weeks before their programs began to meet with Casa staff, Professor Krippner and volunteers in order to learn about Casa's history and mission. It was important that they understand the organization in order to explain it well to guests and visitors.
"Our first full day in the Casa began with the community breakfast prepared each morning by one of the volunteers and served to guests and other volunteers. We then walked to CafÃ© Habana with the co-director, the volunteer coordinator and Professor Krippner," Dix says. "CafÃ© Habana is allegedly where Che Guevara and Fidel Castro sat and planned the Cuban Revolution, and it's where we sat to hear the history of the Casa de lost Amigos."
The four students have been in Mexico City since the first of June. "The biggest challenge I have faced is having to accept my American privilegeâ€”[something] I have always taken for granted," Nyame says. "I have become friends with people who are living lives that I cannot imagine. I have also become really close to a group of refugees who have no clue what their next move will be. An organization has been paying for them to stay at [Casa de los Amigos], but they will only be allowed to remain for a week."
--Kayla Hoskinson '11