Dispatch de Puebla #2

Trip Start May 17, 2007
Trip End Jul 21, 2007

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Friday, June 1, 2007

Hola Friends and Family,
   Hope this finds all of you well.  We´ve been in Puebla for almost two weeks now, and both Sean and Molly have had their first bouts with Montezuma´s revenge... and ultimately triumphed.  This dispatch we´d like to show some highlights from our walk around the historic city center, providing some historical background, and also further explain the various projects we are working on.  Also, we are hoping to start hosting all of our pictures on a travel website, so if you desire you can see more pictures from our trip, as the amount of pictures we can successfully send in an email varies depending on email service (More info coming soon).
   Puebla itself is about 500 years old, founded as an outpost between Mexico City and Veracruz.  Geographically the city is a bit larger than Topeka, the capital of Kansas, however has a population of about one and a half million in the greater metropolitan area.  The popular holiday, Cinco de Mayo, owes its history to the Mexican forces defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla.  Contrary to popular belief, this isn´t actually the Mexican Independence Day, which falls on September 16 each year.  Legend says that after the Battle, as the French forces retreated, angels came down and put the bells in the cathedral towers, and mapped the growth of the city.  The Zócalo, or the historic city center, can be seen in the attached pictures.
   And now for our projects:
   We are working closely with a local university, UPAEP, which is the most prestigious private university in Mexico.  The school itself has about 7,000 students, and is located in El Barrio De Santiago, an older neighborhood of Puebla.  Our projects are all centered around sites in El Barrio de Santiago, in order to improve the quality of the neighborhood.
   Our team was split into two groups, Molly and Melissa working together on their projects, and Sean taking on several individual ones, though many times they overlap.
  The first project of Molly and Melissa is to help the medical students of the university with diagnosing diabetes in the Barrio.  Diabetes, while a problem all around the world, is most prevalent in Mexico.  The girls have already learned how to draw blood, and will soon be heading door to door in an attempt to get local citizens in for checkups and diagnoses.
   Tied closely to this, Sean is working on the campaign for diabetes awareness and prevention.  The director of the medical program hopes to create a national campaign on par with those of industries like Coca-Cola, to help raise awareness of the problem and work to prevent the prevalence of Diabetes.
   Sean also has several small projects.  For four hours a week he meets with a political science professor of the University to learn about the political culture and changes taking place in Mexico, notably within the national presidential elections.  He also works two hours a week with Mi Barrio a newspaper covering events within El Barrio de Santiago, and gets to write an article or two for the online publication of the newspaper.  Also, two days a week Sean teaches English and Computacion (Computer classes) at a local elementary school.
  The second major project of Molly and Melissa  is working at Estacion Infantil, a local preschool that offers services to single mothers and fathers, providing a low cost service in order that the parents are able to work during the day.  The ladies are working to promote nutritional awareness among the children, as well as help them with basic knowledge of shapes, colors and numbers. 
  Starting this week, all of us are working two nights a week teaching computer classes for adults.  These adults are predominantly members of the council for the improvement of El Barrio de Santiago.  This group consists of important members of UPAEP, and the community, including teachers, parents, and administrators.
  Once again thanks for taking the time to learn of our travels.  Next dispatch will highlight our experience at two Lucha Libres (think Nacho Libre) and will also include a contest to win a Luchador mask. 
Best of luck, and talk to you soon,
Molly, Melissa y Sean
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