My name is Lorena Bonet Velazquez and I study international studies and social justice at Centre. For my internship while in Merida I worked with the Instituto Municipal de la Mujer. 

A normal day at work for me is over zoom and my work changes depending on the day. However, I have been working with the prevention side of the institute. My work specifically has been looking at a lot of government law through the different offices and articles of the law to make sure the language is inclusive. For example, if a phrase uses el Presidente changing it to include both the masculine and feminine words. Or another example is if a law uses the word jefes, changing it to use both jefas y jefes.

One interesting point that I have come across while doing this work has been reflecting on my first language, Spanish, and reflecting on my “internal machismo and the patriarchy.” Doing a lot of these changes is important but it sounds different because of what I am used to from growing up speaking Spanish. I have had to deconstruct my own understanding of the language in order to help change the way Mexican law addresses women and the language that it uses.

One thing that I would like to share from my time with the Instituto Municipal de la Mujer is that I think people who are interested in feminism and women’s rights, especially coming from “the west”, to not assume how women’s rights issues are here in Mexico compared to there. The violence here isn’t as different as we see in the US. Change here is a lot more radical. Being murdered because of your gender is distinct here within the law. So not coming in with preconceived notions is important and coming here to learn is important.            

My time has been complicated with learning how to be flexible with it now being on zoom so it is now a little more limited in terms of how I can help but I have been trying to overcome this. Also, really learning Mexican laws is new for me. For example, what protections do women have here, because I have a better understanding of it in the US. Also, building character personally has occurred with my time here. 

Going back to the whole western feminism, overcoming my own biases, and remembering that I am here to learn and break away from certain stereotypes and beliefs has been an important part of my personal development here. Coming in with a fresh start and being receptive to learning and listening is something that I urge other students to do when coming to Merida and working here.

I would recommend this internship opportunity for other students! 

For me I am really interested in what I am doing so it has given me a different perspective working with a different community and country, so whatever your passion is you can build that understanding by coming to another place and I have been able to do so because of this internship program. A different environment has been a growing experience that I hope other students can experience.

To a student coming to Merida for the first time, I would say be open in general, be flexible, and be open to learning. Remember that the job environment is different here, you have to ask for things and let them know what you do know. So, understanding the culture here is important so being flexible is needed to work here. Also, use your voice by asking how to support them and not shying away from that.

Also, my favorite part about living in Merida is definitely the sun and the weather in general. Also, the culture here and more specifically the way that there is a better focus on the community rather than the individual has been a good place to be in.