Thursday, April 16, 2015

Books for Kids!

book display
I have worked in libraries (public and school) for more than 30 years. For as long as I can remember,
I have enjoyed reading and visiting libraries. When I was a little girl (50+ years ago), our local library was a very small outpost of the Fraser Valley Library System. I quickly read most of the children's books and moved on to the Adults' Section. 

For children in the pueblos of Oaxaca State, borrowing books is a new experience. There are no public libraries outside of the city and school libraries were non-existent before Libros para Pueblos
began its mission to help small Mexican communities provide libraries for  children. This week, I visited one of the libraries that is located in the Primaría Margarita Maza in Zapoteca, a town about 40 minutes drive from Oaxaca de Juarez. Many of these pictures are taken by Alan, a volunteer for Libros
para Pueblos.
gym class at Margarita Maza
It was very interesting for me to visit an elementary school in Mexico and to see how much the children enjoy themselves and their library. When we arrived, a class was having a Physical Education class. These students attend school from  8:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Afternoons are very warm in Oaxaca so morning is a better learning time.
Reading gives wings to the imagination!
The parents of the community built the library building and take pride in the facility. They served our group a mid-morning meal. The children spoke to us about their favourite books and how they enjoyed the library.
Each class has a book to record their books.
The library is a happy place, brightly coloured and full of children who want to see the visitors.
The plaque says it all: life is fuller with reading.
Since I retired, I have not been in many school libraries but I remember creating a project once for a Library Education class. My theme was "the library as a garden" where all are free to visit and enjoy without judgement.
Someone enjoys nonfiction.
The children at Margarita Maza were full of smiles and so excited to interact with visitors.
happy kids
Libros para Pueblos is a charitable organization that supplies a "yearly infusion" of new books to each library. It is so important for a school library to have new, exciting books on a regular basis. I know that
when I was working, I had to "hide" the new books until they were processed because the students were so eager.

Education is so important for all the countries of the world!

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take      
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul.

Emily Dickinson

Sunday, April 12, 2015

La Cultura

What should I do today?
Every Sunday, when I don't have volunteer work, I am confronted with many choices of cultural activities.  Today, I decided to visit a gallery, attend a concert by the Oaxaca State orchestra and have a meal at a  museum fundraiser. The first two activities were completely free.

the black pottery of Oaxaca
The former convent of San Pablo houses a textile museum, art gallery, workshops, coffee bar and restaurant. You can sit in the courtyard, watch artisans work, purchase crafts, listen to music or visit the displays in the rooms of the convent. I visited a display of black pottery.
The San Pablo Cultural Centre is funded by the Alfredo Harp Helú  Foundation.
A number of cultural sites in Oaxaca are funded by the Alfredo Harp Helú Foundation. They are beautifully restored and there is no admission charge. I wondered who Alfredo was. I discovered that he is the cousin of the second richest man in the world!!! Alfredo used to own Banamex (a bank) that he sold for a lot of money. Oaxaca is a city full of surprises.
Macedonio Alcalá theatre
A free concert by the Oaxaca State Orchestra was being held in the Macedonio Alcalá theatre. I had a choice because a piano concert was being held in the Santo Domingo Cultural Centre. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert and I was amazed at the beauty of the theatre.
Our theatre at home seems Spartan in comparison.

By the end of the concert, it was time for the mid-afternoon meal. There was an event at the Museo Belber Jimenez, a museum funded by Federico Jimenez, a Mixtec jeweller who became very successful
in the United States and who donated a building and a collection of pre-Columbian gold jewellery to the city. The event was called Pig Nic. Six or seven Oaxacan restaurants were grilling pork dishes and vegetables.
a busy place
I paid 200 pesos and could choose from an assortment of different dishes. I joined a Mexican family at a table and enjoyed some different tacos, a scramble of corn, onion, peppers and pork, and roasted vegetables.
a freshly made taco
I  have three more Sundays in Oaxaca so I have more opportunities to explore. Although Oaxaca is a city with a lot of poverty, it seems to be a city with many generous benefactors and incredible cultural

Friday, April 10, 2015

Choose Beautiful

The streets were jammed with people.

Hace calor! It's hot! There was not a lot of work for me to do at the library today so I left early.
As I wandered through the Historic Centre where I live, I noticed that the streets were blocked. There was an indigenous rally. Thousands of indigenous people from the pueblos were gathered in the streets
protesting. It was hard to pass through the throngs so I cut over a couple of blocks. 

Did I mention how hot it is? I passed an artisan co-op and I bought a hat. I have lots of hats at home but hats are difficult to travel with. My crushable hat looks frightfully out of place here! Cooperatives are the best places to buy goods because they are actually made here and the profits are shared by the membership. 
my new hat
My hat, tightly woven and lined, cost $8 Canadian. Years ago, I bought Panama hats for Monsieur and myself in a shop in West Vancouver. Each one cost almost $100 Canadian. My 100 pesos hopefully will help an indigenous person. 

As I come to know Oaxaca as an temporary resident and not a tourist, there are a lot of things to think about. Before I left home, I collected all the little hotel sized products in my drawers so that I might use them here. After 5 weeks, I have just about used them completely. Remember the 66 peso daily wage?

That's for the locals who have a job. As my products are depleted, I need to replace them. My scrunching spray (for wash and wear curls) cost 186 pesos ($15 Canadian). I've got about 2 days worth of moisturizer (Avène). I can take a taxi to a mall and buy Avène but I walk past an Yves Rocher outlet on my way to the library. Yes, really! The disparities are enormous…. 

One of my friends shared the "Choose Beautiful" video on Facebook. It is so difficult to watch
because there is no "average." How would you rank women's beauty?  The weathered brown faces of the native women are beautiful. The dancing lady that I saw last year in Paris was beautiful. Those we love are beautiful, children are all beautiful….It is so important that every little girl grows up to believe that she is beautiful. 
"the Paris lady"
"Choose Beautiful" is an advertising campaign with the same purpose as every other campaign:to promote and sell product. But a byproduct of this clever campaign is the growing awareness of the effects of society on women's self-esteem. 

Another week has passed and my time in Oaxaca is half over. The yoga mat that I bought this week is still unused but early morning rooftop yoga seems like a good idea for the week-end!