by Nick Schober
On March 22, while most University of La Verne students were checking their watches and hoping to get out of class a little early, a group of ULV juniors and seniors were packing up for a study and research trip to Oaxaca, Mexico.
Unlike any other spring break excursion south of the border, sociology and anthropology majors Danielle Cote, Lacy Cramer, Sara Kears and Andrea Ramella headed for the depths of the Mexican wilderness to study in the native village city of Oaxaca, the capital of Oaxaca state.
The students were accompanied by professor Kim Martin, who led the them in their duties.
They received two units of field work practicum for the trip, as well as Core 310 credit.
The purpose of the trip was to study both the lifestyle, as well as the belief system, of a different culture.
“Even though they are very reliant on tourism, the indigenous people of Mexico are trying very hard to maintain their heritage and ways of living,” said Ramella, a senior. “It also makes us examine the ways in which our culture lacks some of the essential parts of human experience.”
The students found the indigenous people of Mexico do not live on agriculture, but on their own developed crafts, such as
Animalitos, which are small and hand-carved wooden figurines of all kinds of animals, both real and fantasy. This allows the people to maintain their heritage as well as stay with their families instead of venturing far to find very menial work.
“There are about 1,025,000 indigenous people living in Oaxaca. They are often forced to leave their families to work all over Mexico as well as into America,” Martin said.
Besides Oaxaca, the students also visited the pueblos of Santa Ana, San Martin, Monte Alban, Teotitlan de Valle, Arrozola, Atzompa and a host of other cities to study.
The students’ main responsibilities were to map out courses, interview villagers and write up descriptions for the wooden crafts.
The students believe they may have walked away with much more than course credit.
“Experiencing other cultures and their way of life makes us more appreciative of the things we do have.
When we are confronted by other cultures we will be able to understand and adjust to the differences much easier,” Ramella said.