Amy Mejia graduated from Cedar Ridge High School in 2016, and wrote this reflection while preparing for a gap year in Kenya. She shared some reflections from her summer internship at Anathoth:
My name is Amy and I have recently graduated from Cedar Ridge High School. Both parents were born in Mexico, but I was born in California. I have grown up living with two cultures where at home our family holds Mexican values. But when I go outside my home, I engage in an American culture where there’s a socio-economic ladder and values such as freedom of speech and the pursuit of happiness. Living with these two dominating cultures in my life have allowed me to grow an find my own hybrid identity. But this combination is not always so smooth. There is clashing of some values and this phenomenon is called “el choque” which means “the clash”. This identity is called Chicano/a Culture. Chicano culture is an empowering community of artists, authors, activists and workers that dwell in the expression of both cultures and “el choque” where Chicanos are reminded that it is a complicated, but beautiful way of life. As a Chicana activist called Gloria Anzaldua has stated “Deep in our hearts we believe being Mexican has nothing to do with which country one lives in. Being Mexican is a state of soul – not one of mind, not one of citizenship. Neither eagle nor serpents, but both. And like the oceans, neither animal respects bores.” The picture above is me standing next to my self portrait where I delve into this expression and my identity.
Since I have graduated I decided to take a gap year before coming back to school for college. In my gap year I am searching for perspective, motivation and focus. Therefore, Anathoth was the kickoff to my gap year. It has been such a blessing to be a part of Anathoth and I have gained so much from this experience. In early January I will be leaving to volunteer for an organization called Positive Life Kenya located in Mlolongo, Kenya. There, I will be working with the HIV community specifically with orphans and families that have been affected and are challenged by HIV.
Compassion, kindness, love, faith and strength is exactly the kind of goods that I will need in Kenya and it is exactly what Anathoth gave me along with my full box of veggies. I have gained experiences of nurturing and care at Anathoth. I have been humbled by the care and love of the earth. God has created a planet where we as a species can have a symbiotic relationship with the earth. Such as how in the summer when it’s hot the earth creates hydrating produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peaches. I have also found strength in the love that has surrounded me this summer. Both by the nutrients of the earth like the iron in chard, but also by encouragement and faith of the leaders and interns I worked with. I have also strengthened my relationship with God through this community and have been inspired to have a garden of my own at home. I have come to understand the magnificence of God is so many ways. I specifically remember a conversation I was having with one of the interns about the concept of worship and asking what it meant to her. She was quick to respond as we were picking beans, “This is a form of worship to me.” At that moment, I felt rejuvenated at the thought that my relationship with God can be as unique and as personal as I’d like it to be. Experiences like these have shaped my perspective and has caused a curiosity and excitement for all I can do to be with and feel God.
At Positive Life Kenya I will be giving the very love and compassion Anathoth has let me be a part of. I hope to bring love and strength to the people of the slums in Mlolongo. If you’d like to know more about my journey to Kenya feel free to visit my GoFund Me webpage: https://www.gofundme.com/2dnnzyzv.
With lots of love,