Sunday, December 6, 2009

In Consideration of Roommates

Dear Readers,
Thanks for all the thoughtful feedback on the last post. Very good points. Yes--there is a lot to consider here in deciding whether or not to welcome a college student into my home. Some of you suggested that I should NOT ask this roommate to help clean or cook....that I would probably NOT ask that of a young male student. Nope. I absolutely WOULD ask that of a male student. It has nothing to do with gender. If I--a 58-year-old male--can clean a toilet and make a pot of chili, then I would expect a 19-year old male OR female to help around the house. Also, I look at it as part of my tutoring or mentoring: It teaches responsibility. And work--any type or amount of work--gives one a sense of dignity and self-worth. I think of the Chiclets vendors down in the zocalo. They'll let you know quite clearly they ARE NOT beggars. They are vendors and they won't take donations...only your money in exchange for a candy. Why? Dignity. I don't think asking a kid to sweep the floor every day is onerous.

I met with Gary Titus, the founder of the Learning Center, this morning to get acquainted and talk about the specific case of this young woman from the Isthmus.

An important consideration has nothing to do with me, but rather the social impact how SHE would be perceived in her community. Gary suggested that he and his staff would have to do a lot or preparatory work talking to and explaining the living arrangement with the girl's family. After all, they are indigenous campesinos and very traditional. Her living with me wouldn't be a problem for me. For her, it may very well be so. And I have to be considerate of that. On the other hand, if not having housing means she must drop out of university (she's on full scholarship), I would hate to see that.

Gary recommended that the ideal arrangement for her would be to room with an American woman or a couple. It's not uncommon here in Oaxaca for expats to welcome a Mexican student into their homes. Gary will continue to look for that type of arrangement, since we have a month and a half to find something until the young woman must move from her present lodgings. Of course, one can measure the breach between "ideal arrangements" and Reality as exactly the distance between a future and desperation.