Reflecting back on my experience in Mexico, there are three really important lesson I learned from my experience. They are: 1) How to deal with the unexpected, 2) How t and when to take the initiative and 3) The importance of befriending everyone. I want to talk about each of these and give a few examples how I came to learn these valuable lessons.
From the very start of my project I realized that now matter how well I planned ahead I was constantly being bombarded with the unexpected. I could start from the many challenges I faced in simply preparing my proposal for my study; because they were many, but I want to start with the my first weeks in Mexico. I will admit I arrived a bit naive thinking that everyone around me would automatically understand my good intentions and allow be to conduct my project in the manner I wanted. It seemed logical that I could march into a school and explain that I was there to do a study for the benefit of the immigrants in the United States and that they would readily comply- drop whatever they were doing, and help me get started on my project. It's easy to tell that that was inexperienced thinking.
When I arrived at my first school I was asked for documentation of permission from qualified professionals, clear explanations of my intentions and methods and how was it that the school would benefit from participating in my study. The professionalism and seriousness they asked for surprised me, and to be honest, it seemed a daunting task to rise to the level they were expecting. To make a long story short, with the help of my host mother and my mentor I was able to put together a packet of three documents: Letter of presentation, Letter of consent from my mentor (In English) and it's translation, all written in formal Spanish diction to present to the school. With that packet and some divine help, three schools accepted to allow me participate in their high school to conduct my research.
After getting into the schools I assumed everything would be smooth sailing from there. I was in the school I just needed to arrange a schedule with various teacher so that I could observe their classroom and interview them and their students. I asked the director if he knew any teachers that would be willing to do this. The director is a great worker and I don't judge him, but my request didn't go much father than though his ears. I decided that besides waiting for him to find time to ask which teachers would volunteer, I would go to the teacher lounge and get to know a few of the teachers. Before long I had five or more teachers willing to help me with my research. From then on I constantly informed the school staff of my intentions and actions, but I stopped hassling them with extra chores that I could do with my own initiative. That became an important pattern for the rest of my experience.
The last lesson I learned stood out to me in a despret time of need. Towards the end of my project I was having an extremely difficult time finding parents willing to participate in interviews. My original plan didn't work and I was left with virtually no parent contacts. Luckily I had made many student friends during my time participating in the schools. These students and a few of the teachers became necessary gatekeeper for the last part of my project. Through them I was able to acquire the necessary contacts for parent interviews that I needed. I learned that by befriending everyone, those I least expected became some of my most important gatekeepers.
By the end of my experience I truly reflect on my experience with aw. I started a project with very little understanding of what I was truly attempting to undertake, but though the help of those around me and God, it seemed that everything worked out better than I could have imagined. I lived my experience in Mexico and I know it has strengthened my character beyond what I could have hoped for.