Beginning on June 18, 2017 a group of Dominicans and a Franciscan Capuchin Brother entered an emersion experience Inside Mexico. The seven week program, created by Casa Xitla in Mexico City provided guests a concentrated insight to Spanish Language, Mexican culture, history and the embodiment of Catholic Social Teaching toward migrant, indigenous and the poor. Brother Nicolas Reynolds, O.P. and Sister Ana Gonzalez shared with us some of their insights from the Inside Mexico experience.
Ana: In speaking with my Dominican Sisters and participating brothers, we were all very thrilled about the opportunity experience an justice centered emersion experience in Mexico, but I was not sure what the experience would entail.
Nicolas: Going in, I knew that it was a program to learn Spanish but also the culture of Mexico as well as its traditions. I was expecting a program that would help make me a better servant of the Gospel in connecting with Mexican and Hispanic families. Not only would I be able to understand their language, but I could also relate to their culture, their traditions, and their family situations.
Ana: Upon my arrival, I was blown away by the warm welcome and the serene organic environment at the heart of one of the most populated and vibrant metropolis in the world. I was able to reflect contemplatively in a natural setting, and also benefited from the centralized strategic location that allowed us easy access to historical, cultural and world heritage sites.
Nicolas: The experience I had was much more than I expected. The depth at which we learned was beyond expectations. We visited places of great significance to Mexican heritage and history, looking at the very foundations of Mexican culture. For example, the group went on various field trips to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Teotihuacan, and to the Museum of Anthropology. Living in Mexico City itself was itself an experience and the community with whom we lived was extremely hospitable to each of us and very patient with my poor Spanish. The program not only offers a wonderful community and opportunities to explore Mexico’s history; the program also offers lectures on various topics ranging from Art to history to the modern context Mexico is in now. I heard first hand from people who work with immigrants and human rights organizations about the horrific situation Mexico faces because of corruption and the drug cartels. Such an experience is invaluable to know in today’s modern context.
Ana: I agree with Nick, I can’t express enough the quality of our presenters and speakers! The goal of the Inside Mexico program is to provide a comprehensive look at Mexico and the Central American immigrant reality; aiming to dispel myths of “The Mexican and Latino Migrant” and empower participants with information as we minister to a growing Latino community in our United States Catholic Church.
The Inside Mexico experience fed my mind, body and soul, changing opening my soul. I am eternally grateful to Pablo Romo Cedano and the team at Casa Xitla for the richness and passion included in the program, it changed my life!
Nicolas: I don’t think I returned to the United States the same person after this program. Learning first-hand knowledge of the realities people face day in and out has an impact on the soul. What seemed to be a distant problem for people living across a borderline suddenly became my problem too. It’s a human problem. We can use a border or a language as an excuse to separate us from each other, but what really separates us is neither a border nor a language, but ourselves. In my experience of Inside Mexico, I understood a new facet of what Jesus means when he says, “that they all may be one.”
Brother Nicolas Reynolds, O.P. is a Dominican Brother from the Province of St. Martin de Porres in the Southern United States.
Sister Ana Gonzalez, is a second year novice with the Dominican Sisters of Peace.