Sunday, August 12, 2007

Centre Prodh, teaching english and all in a days work

I have about a month under my belt now of my new routine - early 6am or pre 6am mornings to arrive at english classes at 7:30am, all day of my HR internship and evening classes to give as well at times. I have just started doing classes from 7:30 to 9am, internship 10:30 to 5:30 and then another class 7 till 9pm! Sufficed to say I get home at 10pm exhausted every night.
Those around me had to at first put up with some caturwauling and whinging that came from my change of routine.
But after a few weeks of accommodating myself, I've stopped to look around... and you realise that practically all of Mexico works like this. And then you shut up your whinging and just get on with it.
Whether it's the mexican unis that start classes at 7am, the man in the street who travels every day from the outskirts of the city to sell his tacos, is a nation of hard workers, tryng to make a decent living. And sleeping an average of 5-6 hours daily on a national average! (by my estimate).

But isn't it a wonderful thing to be young and willing to work yourself hard?

Now that I have gotten over the initial shock of the new life (after six months of laziness on exchange!) ..I am facing it straight on, getting up and coming and goin, and realising that the millions of lives struggling to make their way in this city do NOT funnily enough combine to make it a trampling rat race, but rather you feel lifted up and carried by the collective journeys of so many dreams travelling around you. And you feel people caring for people - understanding that at the end of the day they have their aunt, their brother, their friend to look after and share life with. The infallible Mexican community identity always comes through. The truth that is felt so strongly in this country is that the people around you are the most important part of your life.

My internship at Centre Prodh ("Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez" Human Rights Centre) is challenging, interesting and extending me a lot.
A lot of my time is spent on research and documents - as of late I have had some thrills of researching and drafting report to submit to the World Organisation Against Torture's Annual Conference, which was hugely interesting and consuming. The main case I used was one that centre prodh is working on, on the rape and torture of many women in a police operation in San Salvador Atenco in the state of mexico last year (among which 211 people were arbitrarily detained). It is also exciting as I am often filling out questionnaires for UN Special Rapporteurs and documents for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The internship involves other things too - like establishing international links etc...It really feels like my studies are being put into practice, which is very fortunate.
The internship is in spanish, in that we all speak spanish and use documents in spanish, but being in the "international area" I am often writing in english and translating too. I still get nervous when I submit documents to my supervisor, a wonderful mexican activist who I already totally idolise!

Two weeks ago the Secretary General for Amnesty International, Irene Khan, made a high-level visit to mexico. Centre Prodh is one of the strongest links AI has in mexico, so we were heavily involved in assiting the visit. It was exciting, and lots of press! Also nerve-wracking though, as I met the whole Amnesty "Mexico Team" from London, and found myself go all quiet as all I could think of in their presence was "One day I want your job!". Ha ha.

Anyway, that is a bit of a rundown for now!
The photos of above are of Irene Khan in a press conference in mexico city, and of the entrance and carpark to Centre Prodh.

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