Volunteering is good for the soul, and for one’s mental health. It also helps build community, which is a longstanding project for me. Some of my motivation stems from a book I read many years ago: The Ugly American, which showed me how to be a better traveler. I have a definition of community as church. The original concept is Greek, and comes from polity rather than worship. Love of neighbor is not merely conceptual, but requires participation; and I don’t sit in pews anymore, but it still needs an arena: community.
I volunteer three days each week while in Merida, and one day per week up north. For several winters (although they are more summery here than the summers in western NY state) I have spent a day each Tuesday working the desk at Merida English Library, attending to needs of the expat community here. Monday evenings and Wednesday evenings I spend with Meridano students at a local language school, mostly helping them with pronunciation, but gleaning some small improvements in my own ability to speak Spanish. (I speak like a three- or four-year old child, with a large vocabulary.) While up north, I conduct a stealth ethics course at a local prison disguised as a nondenominational Bible study. In all cases above I attempt to rock the house by stimulating thought.
Last night was my last class meeting of the season at Academia Municipal de Ingles. So I attended two parties, as I teach two classes. (Several of Monday’s students came to school on Wednesday for the second party.) To illustrate the challenge of subtlety with language, a staff person came into the classroom to tell me in Spanish that there would be some conviviality after class. But what I heard instead of convivio was con video. And I was dumbfounded by this confusing mention of what sounded like video production. But a good time was had by all, as perhaps may be noticed in the fotos below.
Easter egg by Gabby