Alfonsa Thomas, pd 5, semestre 2

Describe the Activity.

For my first comunidades for the second semester, I went to the Dallas Museum of Art. I was very interested in the statues from the ancient tribes who lived in Mexico. This was my favorite of all of them. It interested me because it looked like the 2 frogs were guarding the leader and I knew their had to be a symbolic meaning to it, like most ancient tribal sculptures. I really enjoyed looking at all of the sculptures and I was glad that I chose to go to the museum.

What did you learn about the Hispanic culture?

I learned that frogs were often worshiped by the tribes in Mesoamerica. I also learned that the Olmec were a tribe who were extremely fascinated by the way that the frogs shed their skin, so their leaders would attempt to imitate this and transform themselves metaphorically to reveal a shaman identity within. These sculptures were made by the Mixtec people who lived in southern Mexico. I thought it was very interesting that they used the sculpture in the middle as a way to provide food for the gods. They would burn rubber and coal in the mouth and it would send a large amount of smoke into the sky as if feeding the sun god. Since many of the ancient tribes used many similar rituals, I have come to the conclusion that the Mixtec people were not the only one who used this as a way to bring good luck to themselves by pleasing the gods. The god Tlacoloc was believed to be the rain god by the Mixtec, but the Mayans believed him to be the god of war. I thought this was fascinating that they can believe in the same name for a god but saw him in different ways and believed that he did different things.

What can you take away from this experience?

I can take away the knowledge of truly how important these gods were to the ancient tribes. It was not only a way of entertainment, but also as a tradition that united the people of the time. Since I am going to Mexico for spring break, I will use this information to look for Tlaloc in the artwork, statues or architecture around the town. I now also know how each of the tribes used animals as symbols for themselves such as the tribes, setting rituals as traditions to be passed down for centuries. The world was so incredibly different during this time period and this comunidade has really helped me to at least get a little more grasp on the way that things were.

Mi casa

describe the activity

My family went to Cabo, Mexico over spring break.  On the first night we were there, we went to the traditional Mexican food restaurant called "Mi Casa".  When you get to the restaurant, the outside looks really dull and boring like it would not be very good, but when you go inside, it is filled with little skeleton art pieces all over the place.  The atmosphere was so cool, because the restaurant was really long and had a ton of different levels to it.  Where my family sat, we felt like we were inside until I looked up and there was no roof over our heads, this seemed to be a common theme with many of the restaurants we went to throughout the trip.  When we got inside our waiter was taking our drink orders and I ordered in Spanish and he seemed pretty impressed.  I realized over the whole trip that if you are able to speak good Spanish, then the locals respect you a lot more and you get a more personal style of service which I thought was pretty cool.  I ordered a soup called "La sopa de mi tio" which was a traditional chicken soup and it was delicious!  My dad ordered a mole dish, and I had some of his, but I didn't like it very much.  I am not a big fan of chocolate on chicken so I was glad that I didn't order that. 

Throughout the whole mean, so many of the people at the restaurant would come up to our table and offer amenities like a clown who made balloons, a woman was dressed up like a skeleton and you could have your picture taken with her and a mariachi band.  We didn't get our picture taken with the lady, but we did get balloon hats and have the band play us a song which was really fun.  They also played happy birthday to my little brother because it was his birthday!

what did you learn about the Spanish culture?

From this experience, I learned about a lot of different aspects of the Mexican culture.  First of all, I got to see some of the art aspects that we had learned about, like the skeletons which was really cool to get to see first hand.  I also learned that they like to offer many different amenities, like the balloons and band, and you have to be very careful because it can get expensive.  I learned also that the people in Mexico work very very hard each and everyday and it is important to understand that.

What can you take away from this experience?

This experience gave me such great exposure to native spanish speakers and a better understanding of how helpful it is to be bilingual. I am really able to take away an appreciation for the language along with a motivation to continue to learn the language because of how much of an impact it has when I travel to spanish speaking locations.  This served as a really good basis for when I go to Spain because I will not be taken by surprised by how fast the natives speak and many of the customs.

Comunidad 3: "La Tomatina" Podcast

Describe the activity

For my third and final communidad I listened to a podcast about the Tomatina, tomato fight in Bunol, Spain, because it is something that we have been learning about in class and I wanted to learn more about it.  The podcast consisted of a couples experience with la tomatina and what they felt they did right and wrong.

What did you learn from this activity?

From this activity, I learned the do's and dont's of la tomatina.  I learned that there are around 48000 people who went to la tomatina in 2010 and the numbers are only increasing since then.  In order to have a successful trip, the couple suggested that I make reservations for housing and travel very early.  I learned that the majority of people in Europe, travel by the train.  On the day of La tomatina, there were about 1.5 thousand people at the train station, which is extremely crowded.  

At the square in Bunol where the event takes place, I learned that it is incredible crowded.  When the tomato fight is going on, that there is tomato up about 13 cm from the ground.  They suggested wearing a disposable tshirt, and closed toed shoes.  They also suggested bringing the smallest amount of things that you can.  For instance, instead of bringing an entire wallet, just bring your credit card, license and a few euros in a plastic bag because there are many pick pocketers and your wallet would probably be ruined anyway if it wasn't stolen.

What can you take away from this activity?

From this activity, I can take away how to make la tomatina a good time for myself.  With the tips that the couple provided, I will be able well equipped if I ever decide to go to la tomatina, which is something that I would really like to do some day.  And even if I don't end up going to this tomato fight, this podcast has given me information on traveling and transportation around Europe which will be beneficial for any time I go there.

This podcast really made me want to go to La Tomatina, and hopefully it is something that I will get the chance to  experience in the near future.


What are the two most interesting/important things you learned about the Spanish language/Hispanic culture from participating in these activities this year?

I think that one of the most important things I have learned from doing communidades this year is how to speak to native Spanish speakers.  When I went to Cabo and experienced the interaction with the native speakers, I really got a glimpse into the culture.  I had never really thought about living a life where everyone around me was speaking Spanish and it was the norm, but although I was only in Cabo for a week, I received really good insight into this part of the language and culture with all the first hand experience.  I think that this was extremely important for me, especially as I am going to be studying in Spain very soon.  Had I not been to Mexico and had this experience, I would have probably had a very hard time getting used to Spain and I would have been very taken back by the difficulty I was facing.  I now know that I am just going to need to be patient with everything, and slowly but surely I will begin to assimilate myself with the language and the culture.

The second thing that I find the most interesting from doing communidades this year is how different the Hispanic food is from American.  I am so used to going into a Mexican food restaurant and seeing tacos and enchiladas on the menu and knowing exactly what I like.  But going to Glorias and ordering something completely new to me was a very valuable experience.  When I ordered, I could honestly not even tell you what it was that I had ordered because the foods were either named in Spanish or it was just something that I had never heard of before.  I was excited to experience some new foods that I really enjoy and would definitely order again.

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