Surprises while learning about and amidst change

Only a few days after returning from two weeks in Chile, and I’m already back at Haverford for the spring semester. Thanks to a grant from the CPGC, I spent the second half of my winter break in Viña del Mar and Valparaíso, Chile, conducting additionally research for my anthropology thesis. Since “recovering” in part from the economic decline that the city experienced during much on the 20th Century, Valparaíso is now recognized as a bohemian paradise full of eclectically painted houses and street art, even earning the distinction of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the World Heritage Site boundaries lie two neighborhoods, Cerro Alegre (Happy Hill) and Cerro Concepción (Conception Hill), that are highly frequented by visitors to the city and that have faced fairly dramatic changes in recent decades. These two neighborhoods are where many visitors spend much of their visit and shape the visitors’ understandings of what Valparaíso is like. However, for some residents, these two neighborhoods are inaccurate representations of the city, altered to attract high-end business at the price of squeezing out a more representative residential neighborhood way of life. My thesis explores why residents call Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción fake, what that means, and who gets to decide the direction of urban renewal and change in Valparaíso.

My two weeks were undoubtedly satisfying, both personally and academically. As with any project involving other people, my research threw me a few curveballs and my schedule constantly changed from my original plans . Nonetheless, amidst this flux, I found myself stumbling upon enlightening insights. For example, one day when the timing of an interview with the coordinator of a neighborhood organization didn’t work out, I ended up speaking with a friend about what he wants for the future of the city and how he believes that the touristy neighborhoods fit in with the rest of the city. In the end, thanks to conversations like these, I’m leaving Chile with my mind and my field notes filled with diverse perspectives on tourism, urban change, municipal funding, and collective identity. Next on the agenda? Transcribing, sending my final thank you messages, transcribing, reflecting with my advisor, and more transcribing!

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The beaches of Viña del Mar, Chile are a magnet for tourists taking a break from the summer heat.

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Valparaíso, Chile rises up into the cerros (hills), far above the historic neighborhoods that are downhill and more easily accessible for tourists.

All Together Now

“Somos realistas, y hagamos lo imposible.”
We are realists, and we will do the impossible.

On Saturday morning, the group met with a panel of youth activists living and working in Tucson. Each of the activists, ranging in age, ethnic background, hometown and education, shared their experiences of working in the realm of social justice and migration activism. We had the opportunity to pick their brains and learn something of their connection and experience with the reality of migration within these Borderlands. These activists alternatively approached their work from positions as outsiders of privilege and native Tucsonans working within their own communities. Their projects, too, reflected the vast range of needs for migrants and Tucsonans alike; Jim teaches at a juvenile detention facility, Allison with the Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona, Lupe and Denise at UNIDOS (a program aimed at re-instating the Mexican-American studies program in Arizona), and Rachel with Mariposas Sin Fronteras (a group that supports LGBTQ+ migrants in Tucson). The group and activists engaged in a dialogue about working within systems of injustice in order to better lives, how activism can dismantle those very systems, and the responsibility of those imbued with the knowledge of these systems to act with it. Rachel, for instance, envisions a radical redistribution of resources that would empower those migrants who must work for a living each day to also become activist leaders. Denise, a University of Arizona student and activist, spoke about education’s singular ability to empower systematically disenfranchised youth and the importance of an education that celebrates her heritage. Allison recognized her precarious position as a white woman of privilege working in Tucson and the value of solidarity respect when one enters a new community. Guadalupe, also a native Tucsonan and self-described former “gang-banger,” particularly thrilled, excited, and challenged the group.

His own story of struggle spoke volumes to the structural violence present in Tucson and the immense difficulty in overcoming the difficulties placed on him and expected of him because of his socioeconomic status and gender. He seemed to be one of the more outspoken and radical activists we met with, willing to face police brutality and sacrifice material luxuries and his own bodily health (he has suffered seven concussions over the past three years as a result of altercations with the police). Having studied the concepts of structural inequality and structural violence, we (Caleb and Freda) see Lupe as a living anchor to our theoretical knowledge. Structural violence is a manifestation of underlying and implicit inequality that is mass-produced within a society to constantly oppress, disempower, and assault (physically or otherwise) those rendered expendable. When Lupe said that his activism must assault institutions because the institutions assault the history, education, families, and bodies of poor and brown people, we see that theory is a lived experience. Lupe, even more than his youth activist peers, wants to dismantle the neo-colonial, capitalist system that he sees us as inhabiting. While “every day’s work re-oils the gears of the capitalist system,” he reminded us at the lunch we shared, aptly at Pancho Villa’s Grill, not to become discouraged at being part of this system. Rather, that we should fight against it.

After this panel, then we re-grouped with Jeff and Katie for an extensive reflection on the trip as a whole. We were challenged to think about why people migrate through these borderlands, what our new understanding of the lives lived by undocumented people, and how our personal perspective on the border and immigration has changed as a result of our time here. As we broke up into smaller groups, we delved into deep conversation and reflection and saw that, even though we had identical itineraries, we all interpreted our experiences in different ways. As a whole, we tended to be more pessimistic about the future of these borderlands and migrants and the possibility of structural change (to Border Patrol, to ICE, to our neo-colonial capitalist government). At the same time, we were also challenged to commit to some small goals in our immediate future, ranging from educating ourselves on these issues and policies, engaging our community at Haverford, and even returning soon to the Borderlands.

We concluded our learning with a trip at sunset to San Xavier Mission, the European first mission and settlement and the oldest continually harvested fields in this part of the world. We each lit a votive candle atop a hill overlooking the Sonoran Mountains in honor of some person or group. Some shared those whom they kept in mind – the women who journey, a generation of lost youth, the people of Arivaca – and some kept theirs private.

Our day today was differently vast, beginning with a trip to the desert museum and culminating with a time-warping cross-country journey. As we anxiously wait to return to school, to normalcy, we all reflect on this surreal week, unsure of how to relate the enormity of what we’ve seen and done to another world in Haverford, PA. We are all sure, though, that our experiences have enriched our lives and we will use them, now, to help to enrich the lives of others.

- Freda & Caleb

The Long and Winding Trail

Nine sleepy Fords departed bright and early from HEPAC making their way to cross the border back into the United States. We were struck by the enormous privilege that belonged to us as American citizens. Crossing into Mexico as an American citizen requires no documentation, but the return is another story. “Who is not an American citizen?” The implications of this innocuous question weighed heavily on all of us as the Border Patrol agent leaned in and looked at each one of us carefully.

After returning back into US territory we were again reminded of the Border Patrol presence on our way to Arivaca. This is a small town located in what is known as the Borderlands which is demarcated by checkpoints that continue over a hundred miles into the state of Arizona. At these check points our citizenship status was once again questioned. After passing through, we arrived in Arivaca where we met with John and began our walk along a migrant trail. While this particular trail is not frequented by migrants, we saw physical reminders of those that had chosen this path. A pink backpack, a pair of discarded pants, a blanket caught on a tree branch were pieces of the larger story of migration. They also served as reminders of the uncertainty of this journey. We can never know if these travelers arrived at their desired destinations, or if they perished like innumerable others.

When we returned from our walk we were treated to a delicious lunch at La Rancherita. With full stomachs we then met with Sophie Smith, a representative of the Arivaca Humanitarian Aid office. It was interesting to learn about how the issue of immigration has affected members of this particular Borderland town. Residents deal with issue regarding the legality of providing aid to migrants, harassment from Border Patrol, and the general militarization of their town in response to the migrants seeking aid. Considering the lack of local law enforcement in this town of 700 people it is easy to empathize with the disruptive effect of Border Patrol in the town. However, it was also inspiring to learn of the ways the community organized to resist. After our talk we left with a new understanding of the checkpoints as a means to extend the Borderlands and the dangers within.

We learned more about how the issue of migration can exacerbate and even provoke issues such as gender and sexual inequality. Hearing from Zilivia and Brandon of Mariposas Sin Fronteras (Butterflies without Borders), an organization that provides support to those that identify as LGBTQIA within the detained migrant community. Perhaps one of our most insightful and incisive discussions, we spoke about violence in both their home country of El Salvador and within the detention center. When asked “Why does the border exist?” Zilvia responded, “Para el racismo.” (Racism).

The next day, we made our way to Florence, AZ to visit the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Center (ICE) where we received a tour led by head officer Marco Contreras. To the surprise of many of us, the detention center appeared to not only follow regulations, but was clean, comfortable, thorough, and robust in both legal and medical capacities provided to detainees. Despite what we observed, we ultimately concluded that a golden cage is still a cage.

While a legal stipulation states that detainees have a right to legal counsel, they are not provided a public defender when applying for asylum. However, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Tucson provides free legal services to detainees who cannot afford a private lawyer.  We finished off the day by meeting with Maria, one of the project’s lawyers, who gave us a legal and political history of SB1070, one of the strictest pieces of immigration legislation.

 

 

 

On the Fast Track From Fresno – Research Update #1

When I left the frigid cold of Philadelphia to fly to relatively balmy Fresno, California for my research trip on public opinion formation and the California High Speed Rail Project, I was pretty anxious. My primary fear was that no one would want to talk to me about some infrastructure project with an almost unfathomable opening date: 2029. I was mentally preparing myself for cold shoulders and awkward social encounters. I didn’t want to come home empty handed.

Because of a delay, I had 6 extra hours at LAX to think about these concerns while I waited for my 35-minute commuter flight to Fresno. “What if someone tells me to piss off?” I thought, “What if no one talks to me about this project? What if no one knows about the California High Speed Rail project?”

From the moment I got on the plane heading to Fresno, my concerns largely melted away. I sat next to a man with some neurological issue that made it difficult for him to speak. Despite this speech hindrance, he talked to me for the entire flight into Fresno about how he’s a 4th generation resident of the Central Valley and how he doesn’t understand why the project is worth the money. “San Francisco has a great transportation system. Los Angeles has a terrible transportation system. Why not spend all that money helping better the transportation system in the city’s biggest state?”

During my time in Fresno, all I’ve had to do is mention the California HSR project in public and people approach me with their opinions. There is near universal agreement among interviewees: opinion on the California HSR project is extremely polarized. People either love it or hate it. People I’ve talked to who love the project tend to mention the potential economic benefit and environmental concerns (the air quality here is some of the worst in the nation…there is visible smog and I have been coughing). Those opposed to the project tend to mention concerns about the budget of the project and apprehensions about the viability of the project. Land rights and government intrusion are also themes I’ve found in those who are opposed.

For my first lunch in Fresno, I went to a local restaurant recommended by a pediatric nurse I interviewed. Within 15 minutes I was holding what seemed like a round table of mostly senior citizens in the restaurant. Over California avocado Kobe burgers, we discussed why people think what they think about the project. One woman, who identified herself as a Fresno-based artist, described to me how there are two Fresno’s (this has been mentioned to me repeatedly). There is a Fresno north of Shaw Avenue (affluent) and a Fresno to the south of Shaw (extremely poor). Supporters of the California HSR project have told me that many of the powerful elites north of Shaw avenue have drowned out support for the project in less affluent areas (One notable exception are residents south of Shaw who will be displaced by the construction of the project, such as in Chinatown). This artist supports the project because it will help Fresno develop economically in the long run (she gave many other reasons, but this seemed to be the primary reason).

One gentleman at a downtown Fresno coffee shop/bar mentioned to me that concern for the environment is huge. “Our air quality is terrible and there isn’t enough investment in Fresno – why not build the railroad?” This is an argument the state has made repeatedly, for the high speed trains would be electrified and are to be powered by renewable energy.

One Hispanic man in the construction industry told me, “There are no jobs in Fresno. It’s desperately poor. We’re putting so much money into this. I worry that we’re not going to get anything out of it.” He emphasized that he worries that the unemployed people in Fresno won’t be hired to complete the work. “I hope I’m wrong” he said. “I also want to mention our bus system – FAX – If they can’t even get our bus system right, how are they going to get a huge railroad right?”

One seemingly universal theme here is concern about the economy. A number of respondents told me that there is a collective sense that “there are no jobs.” Driving around Fresno, one can see the terrible poverty. On my first day in Fresno, I lost count of how many homeless people I saw. Boarded up businesses and homes litter downtown Fresno. On my trip to a demolished Del Monte fruit-processing factory that is now owned by the state of California and will become part of the high-speed rail system, I noticed how many abandoned buildings lie along the path of the future 220-mph train. Some of the areas the train would run through resemble desolate parts of North Philadelphia.

I stopped at one home in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood hoping that someone in the household would take my survey in Spanish. The family was holding a yard sale, or more accurately, they were selling everything and anything I would look at. In an effort to build trust (this has been an issue with Hispanic people I have encountered – there is an air of distrust when I randomly approach a group of Spanish speakers because of the fact that I cannot fully explain myself in Spanish), I asked how much for a really nice jacket that would retail at any REI for 30 dollars. Tres dólares was the response. I offered the Spanish version of my survey, which was promptly denied.

I moved on to a gas station in a predominantly Hispanic section of Fresno (Fresno is very nearly a majority minority community). I pulled up to what looked like a group of farm hands waiting for a bus. I handed out copies of my Spanish survey. No one filled one out. I’ve talked to locals about my issue of lack of Hispanic response, to which one older white lady from the liberal artsy Tower District of Fresno responded, “Many Hispanics are migrants – They commute from the border to work the fields and then return home.” While the California HSR project might not be on the radar of this population, I hope to work over the next week on getting more Spanish-speaking respondents.

One common theme particularly interesting for my thesis about how people form their opinions is the fairly universal response of “I get the majority of my information from local news sources,” such as The Fresno Bee and the local NBC/CBS/ABC/FOX affiliates. The Fresno Bee editorial board has largely endorsed the California HSR project, but there have been numerous columnists and letters to the editor decrying the project.

I’ve asked everyone and anyone about the project. I’ve driven around various neighborhoods, spoken with both homeless people and people living in million dollar homes. I’ve interviewed street vendors, waitresses, doctors and lawyers all alike. I’ve found that there are certain techniques that have yielded the best results. I have not been recording our conversations, because I have found that makes people very nervous. I have also found that being too forceful with my “Could you talk to me for a few minutes” or “Take my survey” makes people nervous. Fresno is not a particularly safe town. Locals have repeatedly told me to “be extremely careful,” especially toward Downtown and more southern sections of the city. I’ve been working very hard to balance my desire to get good responses to my project and my desire to remain safe.

Moving forward
Tomorrow morning (Monday morning), I will travel by Amtrak to Sacramento (I have a rental car, but it’s actually cheaper and easier to take the train…plus I’m not in California to study highways). I have an interview with the Governor’s office/High Speed Rail authority about how they perceive the public opinion surrounding the HSR project and what they’ve done to try to influence public opinion (I’m speaking with the Chief Information Officer). I couldn’t be more excited about my meeting with the Authority. I’m hoping to find that my conversation with the government officials will shed some light on the things average citizens have been saying.

While in Sacramento, I will also be attending the state’s public hearing on the first section of rail construction. I’ve been told various opposing and supporting citizens groups will be in attendance. I very much look forward to talking to them.

Next week I will be traveling out into the countryside surrounding the Fresno metropolitan area to meet with the economic lifeblood of this region: big agriculture. Farmers are reportedly some of the most passionate opponents to the project. I look forward to hearing about why they think what they think about this the $70 billion project that could soon become a reality in Fresno.

Let me take you down cause I’m going to…Nogales, Sonora!**

**”Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles

Hi Friends,
We have spent the last two days in Nogales, Arizona and Mexico learning about how border issues directly impact the local communities. Nogales is a bi-national town that was divided by the construction of border walls in 1960′s. Nogales, Arizona is a border town made up of 30,000 residents and is marked with a strong border patrol presence. On the other hand, Nogales, Sonora is made up 400,000 people. These people include hopeful migrants, migrants who have been deported, people who work in the maquilas, a major source of work, and those who call Nogales home.

Our first stop on Tuesday was Nogales Arizona, where we met with Border Patrol agents. Members of the Border Patrol Public Relations Office gave us a presentation on the mission of border patrol and the strategies they use to protect the border. We had the opportunity to ask these three agents any questions we had and hear their perspectives on the work they do as well as the larger issues at play. Something that a lot of us were struggling with was the accountability and agency of individual agents who participate in a larger, oppressive system. On one hand, a border patrol agent is an individual acting within a system. On the other hand, this individual does and should have agency to enact a positive change within the system.

Our next stop was across the border wall to Nogales, Sonora. Crossing into Mexico to Nogales did not require any proof of citizenship and many of us were surprised that we did not have to show our passports until 12 miles into Mexico. On the contrary, the line to enter the United States was very long and demonstrated the vast inequalities that a mere passport can carry when it comes to mobility. The border itself is about twenty to thirty feet tall and extends six feet underground, costing about an average of a million dollars per mile. Standing on the other side of the border, we saw how the border seemed to arbitrarily divide a community where both sides in the past have coexisted.
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One thing that we were shocked by was the history of unnecessary violence at the border. Because border patrol is so heavily armed compared to most Nogales citizens, this violence has resulted in the brutal murder of at least 48 young people at the hands of border patrol within the past twenty years. The photograph shown above depicts candles used for a vigil in honor of Jose Antonio who was shot seven times in the back by the Border Patrol. At HEPAC, Hogar de Esperanza y Paz, where we stayed for two nights, we saw similar artwork honoring the death of Jose Antonio, as well as other victims who have still not seen justice (below). 
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At the community level, there are a lot of efforts going on in Nogales in response to the effect of migration on the local community. HEPAC is a  organization that works with community members to work towards cultures of peace, human rights, and community empowerment in order to decrease the amount of violence and improve quality of life in Nogales. One thing that we were surprised about was the work that HEPAC does within the community rather than working with the migrants that are traveling through before crossing the border. This idea of approaching migration by strengthening the community was a new and important one. Whereas we had been focusing on how communities might help individual migrants, HEPAC taught us that by strengthening families, children, and women, communities can evolve towards a day where migration won’t be necessary.

We also met with Kino Border Initiative, a Jesuit organization that provides meals and clothing to recently deported individuals. One thing that we appreciated about Kino Border Initiative was the bi-national collaboration between the US and Mexico. Thomas, one of the volunteers at Kino who spoke with us, described Kino as a place where “Americans work with Mexicans to help Mexicans”. We found this to be a powerful idea, as it shows that in order to tackle a bi-national problem, we need all voices to be heard.

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On Wednesday, we met with local activists in Nogales. Mary-Cruz was kind enough to invite us to her home for Tostadas. She talked about the development of Nogales as a city, and the influx of American owned maquilas. She also discussed her fight to mobilize her community in order to demand electricity, water, and land ownership. We also met with Kiko Trujillo, an industrial engineer and ex-maquila manager who now runs a nonprofit that provides affordable prosthetic devices and wheelchairs for people with physical disabilities. The will power and hope that Kiko and Mary-Cruz have for Nogales is reflected in the initiatives that they have taken to improve and remain in Nogales.

Our time in Mexico was very short, and we feel very grateful to have met so many interesting and passionate people along the way. Although this issue of migration is thought to be one of impossibility and hardship, we were lucky to witness the individual and community efforts in Nogales Mexico that embody hope.

-Nahara and Katie

HC Left Its Home for Tucson, Arizona*

*Sing this to the tune of “Get Back,” by the Beatles

Nine ‘Fords arrived in Tucson, AZ yesterday, as we embarked on the CPGC’s Borderlands Trip, which is designed to give Haverford students hands-on experience in issues surrounding migration across the increasingly militarized Arizona-Mexico border. After our travels, we settled in at the Roadrunner Hostel (described by one of our group-mates as “a combination between Lunt Cafe and James House”) and met our guides.

This morning, we met up with activist and immigration lawyer Isabel Garcia. Garcia led us in a passionate discussion of the history of US-Mexican border relations and of the gradual demonization of Mexican immigrants in US media. Garcia described the shifts in attitudes toward Mexican immigrants in relation to the US economy, tracking how those with economic power tend to control whether US policies and public opinion are favorable toward immigrants.

In the afternoon, we observed Operation Streamline in action at the Tucson Federal Courthouse. In this expedited judicial procedure, implemented at the request of Boarder Patrol, a group of 70 undocumented immigrants (almost exclusively young males from Mexico, most of whom have crossed the border in the past five days) is brought in front of the Arizona District Court. Here, they almost all accept a plea bargain (offered by the US prosecutor) sentencing them to 30-180 days in federal custody before they are deported. This plea allows for the migrants to avoid criminal charges for entry/re-entry into the United States illegally. A sobering experience for our entire group, we watched the rapid and impersonal sentencing of 70 migrants within an hour and a half. Asked a string of yes-or-no-questions (“How do you plead?,” etc.), the only words out of most migrants mouths before receiving jail time were “Si,” “No” and “Culpable” (“Guilty).

We concluded the day at “El Tiradito,” (“The Castaway”), a shrine with flowers and candles that is “an important part of local Mexican lore and culture.” At the shrine, numerous group members wrote down their hopes for peace and progress and stuck them in the shrine’s mud-brick walls.

 

–Jacob Sweeney ’17 and Miriam Hwang-Carlos ’17

Training For Change Workshop

*This post is written by Haverford House Fellow, Ian Gavigan ’14.

Thirty five Haverford and two Bryn Mawr students took part in a series of intense workshops on social change work with two experienced local community organizers and social justice educators, Matthew Armstead and Nico Amadour, this November. The workshops helped participants prepare their social justice work through the lenses of “organizing”– a set of tools and practices that prioritize successful movement building and community involvement. Over the course of the workshops, students were asked to envision, model, and create methods of building community-based power, bringing together coalitions, and envisioning longeScreen Shot 2014-12-17 at 9.17.14 AMr-term processes of change.

Many of the participants had attended previous Bending the Arc workshops, the series of social justice trainings led by Ian Gavigan, ‘14 (Haverford House Fellow), Emily Mayer, ‘14, and Waleed Shahid, ‘13, throughout the semester, while others came to the weekend with little exposure to the previous trainings. Students represented a diverse array of existing campus organizations, including the Black Student League, TIDE, ReThink Incarceration, ETHOS, SJP, Haverford Asian Students Association, SAGA, Haverfordians for a Livable Future, and Sons of Africa, while others came with deep commitments to issues relating to the LGBTQ community, feminism, economic inequality, racial justice, and immigrant rights, to name a few.

While many students came to the workshops representing distinct groups, the hours spent together afforded them opportunities to interact, share stories and ideas, and build relationships across multiple affinity groups and social justice efforts. In small groups, students set both hypothetical and real goals, mapping out realistic strategies to effect a particular change on their campuses. The facilitators led sensitive and meaningful discussions on building solidarity among groups who do not necessarily share the same struggles while also leading the diverse group of students in exercises that helped build interpersonal and inter-group connections in the workshops themselves.

Through hearing facilitators’ own stories of fighting for environmental, LGBTQ rights, and immigrant rights, both in college and non-college settings, students learned about real life models of hard organizing work leading to successful outcomes. Students posed numerous questions about strategies for social change based on the actual examples provided by the facilitators and began to make connections to their own work at Haverford.

The weekend of Training for Change workshops provided Haverford and Bryn Mawr students valuable space for thinking more critically–and materially–about how to effectively make movements for social justice a reality on our campuses. Instead of thinking purely in either theory or community-specific problems, Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 9.17.04 AMparticipants learned tools for bringing proven strategies to bear on their local issues.

To follow up on these workshops, Gavigan, Mayer, and Shahid, will reconvene student participants in an effort to maintain and strengthen the bonds of the Training for Change workshops. In spring 2015, they will build relationships with campus organizers and offer individualized support to groups at Haverford. Over the course of the next semester, Gavigan will regularly host an “Organizers’ Table”–a space in which student leaders can meet, share, and further develop their work with a specific focus on activism at Haverford as they seek to make meaningful change in the college community.

National Women’s Studies Association

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Left to Right: Hannah Klein ’15, Katy Frank ’17, Maddy Durante ’16

Hannah, Katy, and Maddy attended the Annual National Women’s Studies Association Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 13-16. This year’s conference theme was FEMINIST TRANSGRESSIONS. For more information about the National Women’s Studies Association, check out their website at www.nwsa.org.

 

 

Fall Break High Rocks Trip

Ruthie Cartwright ’15 and Dana Duncombe ’17 lead a group of students in a trip to High Rocks, a leadership and empowerment program for girls in West Virginia over Fall Break. Ruthie and Dana interned with High Rocks through the CPGC summer partnership internship program this past summer. Over Fall Break, they were able to strengthen the relationship with High Rocks they built over the summer by returning and bringing more students with them. Below are photos and captions by Dana from the trip.

Left photo: Shot of one of the barns at the farm where we went to pick apples that we would later press into cider.

Right photo: For two days, we helped clear brush from the High Rocks property.

Bottom photo: The BiCo students get ready to make apple cider while High Rocks AmeriCorps member, Kris, takes the wheel.

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On Food: My Cuisine in Jogja & DFD

Here are some of my favorite foods that I tried while in Jogja:

Gado-Gado or Lotek

GadoGado

A Javanese dish composed mainly of lightly cooked vegetables, potatoes, and rice with a rich peanut sauce. It is a sweet dish in Jogja, but it is a salty dish in more western parts of the country.

Nasi Goreng (Ayam, Bebek, Telor…)

Nasi GorengTelor     Nasi Goreng Ayam + Telor

I ate this a lot. It’s simply fried rice with egg and chicken, and it is good pretty much anywhere.

Pancakes

Pancake with Chocolate Ice Cream     Pancake

There are many pancake shops in Jogja. Unlike in America, pancakes are usually eaten for snacks throughout the day instead of for breakfast. The two pictured above were from Maryanne’s — a pancake and ice cream shop near Anna’s Homestay.

Mie Aceh (kuah)

Mie Aceh Kuah

A spicy dish from the Aceh region, one can choose to get it kuah (soup), or goreng (dry). This dish is not a joke — you better get it tidak pedas (without spice).

Ayam Geprek

Ayam Geprek

This is a very interesting dish: you tell the cook how many chilis you want, and he or she grinds them up on a concave stone. Then, the cook takes a piece of fried chicken and pounds it into the stone with the chilis. It can be extremely spicy, and I usually only got 1 chili or half of 1 chili. I heard at one place that the record number of chilis in one Ayam Geprek is about 200.

Tempe

Tempe

You cannot escape tempe if you spend any time in Yogyakarta. There are many variations, but it is usually fried soybeans, and it is really good with sambal — a common spicy sauce.

Salak

Salak

This fruit kind of tastes like a cross between an apple and an onion if you ask me, but it is everywhere in Jogja, and is worth a try.