Friday, May 23, 2008

Coyopalan, Veracruz, Mexico

I finally have a chance to sit down and write. However I don't think it will last long. This computer I am typing on sucks and the space bar is broken. Today we had a little of a break from the hectic schedule we've been keeping this week. The business is good because it makes the time go by fast but it gets tiring.

Apparently we brought the heat with us to Xalapa. It's been pretty hot yesterday and today. That contributes to your exhaustion as well. Well I'm sitting in a internet cafe not too far from where I am staying. It's pretty funny because not only is it an internet cafe but they also have X-boxes and stuff that you can pay to play by the hour. It's the old x-box though. But there are two little boys over there playing it and they are pretty excited about it. It costs 8 pesos to use the internet for an hour, that equals about $.80. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

We've really done and seen alot this week. Usually every day we have a lecture of some sort about Mexico and Veracruz. Most of these have been from professors from the University of Verecruzana and they are directly related to the outreach functions of the university. We've basically heard about their own Cooperative Extension, even though that's not what they call it. One night this week (Monday or Tuesday) we heard from a professor that is responsible for setting up places of knowledge exchange throughout the state of Veracruz. We visited one, names 'Casa de Coyopalan'. This 'casa' or house is basically in a village that is way up in the mountains. It is a place that the community can come and receive help and research based information and best practices on anything from health to food safety. They have a woman from the community that has been trained in best practices for health and food safety and she has three program assistants from the community that help her to educate the people around there. OK. They didn't call them program assistants, but that's what they were. People from the community educating their peers to prevent disease and encourage best practices with food... sound familiar anyone?

We also visited a school in the community. It was a multigrade school and the only school in the community. 1st - 6th grade I believe. Two teachers and about 40 something students. It was guite the interesting set up. They had a smartboard and a computer in the classroom too. I was pretty shocked to even see internet access way out where we were. The Casa also had a computer lab, but no internet. They allow the children to come there in the afternoon and use the computer to learn to read and so forth. They were in there yesterday while we were visiting. This is an opportunity that they never would have had if the University of Verecruzana had not brought their resources and knowledge to this town.

This is Rafael. He went to University, graduated and returned to his home to reach the people of Coyopalan. And he's pretty passionate about what he does too.

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