When GU Politics informed me that I was one of the lucky students chosen to visit Mexico, I could not believe it. My family and I had spent whatever we had to travel internationally to visit our family in Jordan. Before I knew it, I was boarding a flight for my first ever international trip to somewhere apart from other home. It had been almost a decade since I left U.S. borders and what I learned was eye opening. From how the rest of the world is beginning to see us as a nation to how important elections are abroad, I was left with a sense that we can do so much better and inspired to do more!
Looking back, the one word that I truly came to understand was isolationism. We hear the term all the time to describe the current Administration. It became more than a concept when we met with Agustin Barrios Gomez.
Along with most of the people we met with, Agustin Barrios Gomez spoke multiple language. He was also incredibly knowledgeable of American politics, describing to us how Texas and Mexico trade alone is more than all of Latin America and the world combined. He made a point to describe the U.S. and Texas not as neighbors but as roommates, as the U.S. continues to discuss leaving trade deals. What we choose to burn that belongs to our roommate will also burn our own space. I felt as if the rest of the world was involved in this fervent movement and we were in a completely different room.
Isolating ourselves is not just bad policy--it is lonely. The world is so connected. And while we saw so much of that in politics, I found myself becoming more and more homesick the more time I spent in Mexico. It took me a moment to realize I was homesick for Jordan. When I walked through markets, I saw patterns and colors that reminded me of my Palestinian heritage. I saw Al Pastor meats being cooked along the road just like in the streets of Jordan. The city even smelled like Amman, so full of life and sweets and savory goodies!
There were so many families out and about. Even during the PAN rally, we saw entire families come out. It was not just one or two families--the majority of the audience consisted of them. It made me realize that voting in Mexico is not an isolated moment. Entire generations passed the moment down to the generations to come.
There were absolutely issues in the electoral system. People who came to major voting hubs to vote did not find enough ballots. Some people were confused about where to go vote to begin with. But every citizen was guaranteed a free voting ID card that would be sent to them no matter where they were. Mexico spends billions on its voting infrastructure. Even though it was inconvenient, people waited more than 7 hours in line to vote! They did not leave. There was a dedication and fervor that I hope we see in our country one day.
Mexico was a once in a lifetime experience. We had the privilege of watching history as it unfolded before our eyes. We were able to meet directly with every party involved in that moment. Even though we have a President that disparages this country and its people on an almost daily basis, Mexicans treated us with utmost kindness. I am so thankful for the hospitality of the people we met as they patiently worked to understand us through our broken Spanish, a courtesy I hope we extend to those visiting our country. I saw so much beauty and vibrant life on every corner we passed.
Thank you all for joining our journey on #HoyasInMexico!