So she went to Mexico…

I told everyone I knew about my first trip out of the United States. I felt like something changed in me after I had been living in Tijuana for a few days. The terrain was less menacing, the language less foreign, and the walks of life less strange. Of course the biggest shock was driving from the I-5, the same freeway I’ve taken in both Washington and California, into a dusty highway that in no way resembled the roads I grew up around.

A la Iglesia
A La Iglesia (2016)

The US-Mexico Border class that went with me on this journey stayed with me at Esperanza’s Posada, located in La Gloria. While there we ate at many local shops including a panaderia, a taqueria, and a dulceria. What was special about living here for a week was the quality of the meals we received. Everything was homemade from scratch. At the taqueria we ate at one night I watched tortillas being made hot and fresh by hand.

Una Noche en la Posada
Una Noche en la Posada (2016)

The mission of the trip involved our cooperation with Esperanza International. They gave us a place to live in La Gloria and in return we offered our strength and perseverance in building a more dignified home for a family living in one of Esperanza’s communities. We worked for a family in Cumbres for a total of five days. Initially I was worried that I wouldn’t be strong enough to help, but everyone on the team was flexible. We were told that “being” is more important than “doing.”

Self with Dana
Self with Dana (2016)

I really took that instruction to heart. When my muscles ached from shoveling dirt I spent my time with the children of the community. We would bond over drawing and taking photographs of one another. I came to Tijuana with almost five years of experience learning Spanish so everyone seemed to understand me, but no one as much as the kids. It felt like some cute girl was always asking for me to draw them una sirenita, like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I drew ponies, dragons, basically anything that they could imagine. But we also talked about their lives in Tijuana. We talked about their school and their families. They were all so excited that I knew Spanish as none of them knew any English.

Nuestro Trabajo (2016)
Nuestro Trabajo (2016)

Playing with the kids was the fun part. The real work came with shoveling dirt and transporting that dirt across the street and down a hill. We started our work by staring at a 15 foot wall of dirt wondering how so few of us would ever make this look like a foundation for someone’s home. However after five days of sweat and tears under el sol, our group managed to move enough dirt to create a trench and begin leveling the earth to begin the building process.

Fuertes (2016)
Fuertes (2016)

It was hard coming home and explaining to people that I hadn’t actually built any houses, per se. I’m sure my friends and family expected to see me covered in cement and/or bruises from mixing and applying said cement. However the work that we did was exceptional. The days were hot and long, but everyone found their place. It was even flexible enough that one day I was able to shovel dirt and bend metal into place with equipment that I had never seen before in the same day.

Miedo (2016)
Miedo (2016)

Talking to the kids also made the work worthwhile. I realized how different our childhoods were: my own and the children of Cumbres. Where they loved to get dirty and share things, I remember myself to be more of an indoor creature. I loved books and puzzles and clean hands, but these children loved to laugh loudly and run barefoot. My cheeks hurt at the end of each day from smiling so much.

Mamá y Bebé y Pollo (2016)
Mamá y Bebé y Pollo (2016)

My body was tired, but my mind was on fire. So many connections were made in such a short amount of time that I thought I couldn’t take it all. I got a bit anxious on the last few days in Tijuana, wondering how this trip would effect me in the future.

Veinte y cinco (2016)
Veinte y cinco (2016)

I’m still not sure how this trip will manifest itself in my future work. All I know is that I felt something very real and very strong in Tijuana. I felt it while holding a mother’s one-year-old baby. I felt it while I was playing soccer with the neighborhood boys. I felt it when I watched the children finally break open the Mickey Mouse piñata we got for them on our last day in Mexico. I may go on without knowing what this feeling is exactly, but I know that I have been inspired to action. Community service changed me as a child, but now world travel has changed me as a young adult. I see the two becoming more important to me every day.

El Solito (2016)
El Solito (2016)

 

-Bailee Hiatt

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El Hombre de la Tierra

1

The following is based off of an interaction during a trip to an Esperanza Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. As one of the sisters talked about the mission of the clinic, the rest of the group looked at the dump from afar. A man climbed out of the wreckage of human waste and garbage and walked past our group. I immediately wrote a poem in response to this experience.

 

A form appeared from la tierra

Un hombre

Covered head to toe

In the sweat and the dirt

Of the Tijuana dump

 

As we stood and beheld

The world around us

He lived it

 

He sat in it

 

His perro sat in it, too

 

As the sister of the clinic

continued to discuss

Poverty

Disease

Drug Abuse,

El hombre de la tierra approached me

 

He reached for me

 

La mano

 

Without a second thought

I extended my hand to him

My porcelain skin met his chalky palms

 

I was so embarrassed.

 

 

BAILEE: An Introduction

Bailee is the name.

Other than that I can tell you that I am a freshman Visual Art and History double major originally from Santa Rosa, California. Seattle has been my first step into a life outside of California. I had lived in Sonoma County my whole life and by age eighteen I was ready to move out. I left behind three dogs, loving parents, and a younger sister that I miss every single day.

"Roxie" 2015
“Roxie” 2015

Needless to say, I have never been outside of the country. I have been up and down the west coast, but I had never felt what the air feels like anywhere else.

"Sonoma County" 2015
“Sonoma County” 2015

In approximately twenty-four hours I will be crossing the border from the United States into Mexico. I’ve studied Spanish for almost five years, I’ve read Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies (Seth Holmes, PhD MD) and The Devil’s Highway (Luis Alberto Urrea), and I’ve had hours of discussions with my close knit US-Mexico Border class ; I’m more than ready to take this step in my life.

"Bathe" 2015
“Bathe” 2015

I’m only nervous for the heat. Other than that, my adrenaline from the atmosphere at Club de Esperanza should hold me through the hours of tossing cement buckets in order to build homes for the people of Tijuana.

"Capitol Hill" 2015
“Capitol Hill” 2015

I suppose I am anxious to meet the children at the orphanage we are going to visit. I brought a pad of paper and colored pencils to better bridge the gap of language between myself and my new friends. The artist in me couldn’t help wanting to share my passion with others.

"Self" 2013
“Self” 2013

I am primarily a visual artist, but since my move to Seattle I have been taking my Polaroids “more seriously.” What that means is that the rising price of Polaroid film has caused me to cherish each photograph I take. Unlike my smartphone, my Polaroid photographs are precious, one-of-a-kind. I also can’t help but love the portrait style orientation of the Polaroid 300 film. As a visual artist I specialize in portraiture, making each Polaroid I take all the more special to me.

"Andrew II: 2015
“Andrew II: 2015

Now why do I want to study abroad in the first place? That’s the question. I believe the only answer I have is to see something completely different. The longer I stay in one place, the longer I question myself and my purpose. Recently my purpose has been to serve. I’ve been volunteering at CASA Latina for two months now, and before moving to Seattle I did plenty of community service in Sonoma County. I also want to challenge my brain and my heart to be stronger every day. I’ve been learning Spanish for years now, but never have I had an opportunity like this to spend a week in a Spanish-speaking country in order to help others succeed.

"Capitol Hill Couple" 2015
“Capitol Hill Couple” 2015

There are people I will miss when I am gone, but they know that I can’t stay away from them too long. Bailee will come back sooner or later to remind those she cares about what they really mean to her. Without my friends and family who knows where I’d be right now.

"Bridget and Peaches" 2015
“Bridget and Peaches” 2015

Well I suppose I’ll finish packing. I don’t want to forget anything important like my sketchbook, my camera, and certainly not my sunscreen. I moved north for a reason.

-Bailee