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Cecilia Pineda: Family Time, Travel, and Volunteering with Environmental Organizations in Mexico

July 5, 2011

Cecilia Pineda

There are myriad reasons why I took time off. However when I go through the list (placing academics into practice, a break from Brown, desiring an abroad experience but not wanting to take away from my time to study at Brown, Spanish immersion), sometimes I feel like I took time off just to take time off –yet it is one of the best decisions I have made at Brown.

I bought a roundtrip ticket to Mexico City since I knew I’d end up there to celebrate the holidays with my family (most of which lives in Mexico). Over my time I took classes in Guanajuato, hitchhiked to Oaxaca, traveled to Sinaloa with my Pa, volunteered and got to know different non-governmental and governmental environmental organizations throughout Mexico and even one in Cuba. I got to taste and experience several new parts of Mexico. I grew a better understanding of the climatic, cultural, economic, and gastronomical variations throughout my family’s country.

Although living with my family in Mexico did not draw me to leave Brown, by far it was the most valuable part of my leave. My visits to Mexico usually last 1-2 weeks around the winter holidays, and are packed with family get-togethers, delicious foods, hellos and goodbyes, and not enough time to catch up with all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandmothers from both sides of my family. When I was leaving Mexico after my semester off, my grandmother told me that it was wonderful to finally get to know me. I was somewhat shocked, because I had always felt so at home and comfortable with all of my family from my mother’s side. Yet she was right, that was the first time I had ever really lived with them. Growing up in the States, I always felt as if I was living in two different worlds. But now whenever I am state-side, I can so strongly feel all of my family on the other side, my other home.

Coming back to Brown, I held a new sense of focus and clarity in how I wanted to be spending my time. I cannot understate how much I look forward to seeing my beautiful family in Mexico whenever I get the opportunity to go.

 Here is a picture of me in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca.
We went to a market on our last day
to buy pineapples and fish for beachside grilled tacos.
I met a friendly parrot named Pancho.

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