Today was our last full day in Guanajuato. I feel like I’ve learned so much on this trip not just about agriculture and science but also about people and other cultures. I felt like we stood out a lot as white Americans who spoke English. In the US I feel like “foreigners” are so common place that they don’t stand out or get noticed. At first I was annoyed at standing out as a foreigner.
As the trip progressed however I realized that it was a good thing we stood out. At first I felt excluded because of the looks and the occasional comment. Then when we went to the school and as we explored the town I realized how close knit the town is and how everyone knows each other so of course new people would stand out. At the schools the students were so friendly and accepting. They didn’t just greet us they made friends with us which is something I don’t think we tend to do in the US. So yes, foreigners don’t stand out in the US but maybe in part its because of our lack of interest and desire into knowing people and making friends not just that we have a diverse culture.
As a whole my trip to Guanajuato has been an eye opening experience. Before I camer here I believed I knew a lot about agriculture and the environmental issues but seeing the severe water scarcity and ejido poverty first hand made me realize how naive United States students are. Trying to tackle these issues at home is a challenge in itself but here they are even more severe.
Prior to Guanajuato my experience with agricultural land was green and alive with vegetation. Here only the small patches of irrigated land have color. The Oglala aquifer is steadily lowering in meters higher than it is being refreshed. Farmers with a lack of education do not understand the benefits of water conservation and still use old practices such as burning of fields to get rid of weeds and pests.
The United States has many agricultural problems but they are dwarfed by those of Mexico. Misuse of practices and lack of education make it hard for small rural farmers to get information on sustainable practices. Despite all of the issues we saw, it was even more interesting learning about all of the ideas the University of Guanajuato has been working on to combat their issues. The greenhouse water catcher, the use of endemic plants as vegetation, and other green ideas like natural building materials could be used to make their problems smaller
Today started out poorly with me still feeling sick but ended amazingly. I felt sick most of the day but at the end we go together with the Mexican University students at their school. They catered a dinner and a dj so we could eat, dance, and enjoy out last night in Mexico with them.
All in all I’m going to miss Mexico and everything it has to offer us. Its culture, locals, and students were all great and will be memorable for ever. I was told I would change and be different when I come home. That was true, I’m returning home with new knowledge of the world and culture. I made a few really good friends in the past week. From Mexico or the United States we the students had a lot in common whether it be goals in life, majors in college, or even music and hobbies. Personally I hope I get to see these students, my friends in the future, maybe in the US this time.
Posted in JRR
Day 7 in Mexico was an experience to say the least. I personally learned about food safety and immune systems first hand. 8 individuals in our group were sick today. a few of us felt it yesterday in the hot sun but others were up in the night with a range of symptoms.
Food safety is still really important no matter how careful you think you are being. We either caught a bug down here or a certain food did not agree with us. Im not sure which because both are highly probable. Either way I made the best of it and enjoyed the day sleeping and relaxing in the hotel.
Posted in JRR
Today we went out to vegetable growers fields, green houses, and strawberry fields. I learned a lot more about water problems and irrigation. Since water depletion is becoming a huge problem down here there are many regulations and rules on farmers water usage. For example they can only irrigate 100 acres of land, even if they have 600 acres.
There are two ways to irrigate crops; arial and drip. Arial wastes 40% of the water used on the crops. The water lands on the leaves of the plants which evaporates quicker then the plants can use it. It also is an invitation for bacteria to grow and contaminate the crops. Drip on the other hand is much more successful. the water goes directly to the soil which the plant then uses, wasting none of the water and the leaves cannot get infected with bacteria.
The green house and strawberry fields were also pretty interesting. They were harvest all different types of plants in the green house including endangered cacti. There were 32 acres of strawberries at the farm. I haven’t seen anything like it before. Guanajuato is known for its strawberries, they are a major importer to the Unites States.
Here are some pictures of the endangered cacti and strawberry fields.
Posted in JRR
Today was our final day in mexico. It was very sad leaving our new friends but a lot was learned. The overall main point of this trip to me was that the environmental problems in Guanajuato will have an effect on the environmental conditions of the US and Pennsylvania. The environmental disasters occurring in Guanajuato aren’t relevant in PA yet but similar conditions could occur in the Midwest and the south west in the not so distant future.
Unfortunately for Guanajuato the water problem is very far along and it will take a lot of research and technology alone to halt this deterioration. Overall it is very important to understand agricultures effects on the environment. And it is also important to cultivate endemic plants such as agave to stop soil destruction, and water depletion.
This trip has given me an appreciation. For how good we have it in the US. And it has shown me how important our environment really is to our survival.
I can’t believe my final day in Mexico has come to an end. The high point of today was when we gave presentations with University of Guanajuato students. My presentation was on agronomic plants of Mexico. 10 agronomic plants are: Sorghum, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, rice, wheat, strawberries, and tomato. I focused on strawberries and lettuce, which are grown here due to the favorable climate, and good volcanic soils. That is the reason most agronomic plants are introduced. They are grown in Mexico and sold to the US in the winter months when the US can’t produce them. The trade of agronomic plants brings jobs, profits, and fresh produce to both the US and Mexico.
Our day ended with a cultural party at the hacienda copal, which was on the UG life science campus. We had a real Mexican meal, and then spend an hour dancing to traditional Mexican music. It was a lot of fun, and plus we got to introduce country line dancing! I got to meet so many cool people on this trip and I will be sorry to see it end, but I know that I have made friendships that will last a lifetime and across borders.