This weekend we visited Malinalco which is in the village of Chalma – a town 115km southwest of Mexico City en Estado de Mexico. A quick google search will tell you that Malinalco has been known for its mystical powers and sorcery. It is said that there are witches who live on the other side of the mountain and that in pre-Hispanic times, people came to Malinalco to become warriors. Malinalco is also known for the temples in Cuauhtinchan,  archaeological site (but so much more than that), and its pulque which is a milky liquor made from mamguey (agave), not as strong as tequila.

By Jean-Arellia T

In Chalma, there is a church with a cave where it was said that a black Christ appeared and it is the second most visited religious site in Latin America aside from Basilica de Guadalupe in D.F. In this cave it was said that warriors in pre-Hispanic times would come and spend three days in the caves, fasting and in a sort of meditation to prepare themselves to become warriors. And it is believed that when you are there you can make an offering for anyone you know who is suffering from health issues or pain.

The gate has never been open in previous years. We expected it not to be open but it was and we were able to enter. I made an offering when no one was watching to heal my father and my partner. While in the cave, I felt my body swaying. My mind explained that it was the altitude or that I was tired; my soul said it was something else. Just then Chacon was bit by something and ran out of the cave. Others saw but no one approached him so I left the cave to check on him. It was a strange thing and he said to me “I don’t think I was supposed to be in the cave, I feel weird here.” Three days ago Chacon was saying that he is not at all superstitious. We did not go back in.

A student in our group lost her brother and learned of it that night before. She was able to have her time in that cave.

That night we broke bread as a group of 28, then had our first group process where we heard from each and every person in the group about their experience in Mexico thus far. I learned from the process that I give up my voice for others who need the space. And I learned that I feel fine about that and when I do not feel fine about it it is mostly because I am thinking about what others expect from me. But if I am to trust and surrender that at every moment I am exactly where I need to be, then I can relax in my power and in my presence and trust that I will serve my purpose as it is needed.

I speak when I feel it is needed, although I can learn to be more aware of when that is. I learned about people’s pain, insecurities, needs — and it helped me understand better those with whom I had biases and I was able to see them with more compassion.

The theme Jason and I have been discussing this week has been about faculty boundaries on immersion programs. Definitely immersion programs need faculty to be different as the nature of immersion is intimacy. You spend many days together, know much more about one another that you may ever know in other educational contexts, and the level of emotional healing that occurs require more compassion from faculty as all participants are experiencing a level of vulnerability that is not prevalent in classrooms in the U.S.

This program is learning how to be an educator and be human.