What will you do when you turn 60? What did you do when you turned 60?
The Casa’s turns 60 next year and we’re going to celebrate. Get excited for this next chapter of history by reflecting with us on the “then and now,” looking back a bit before looking forward. Over these next two weeks, we’ll be sharing several key threads of the Casa’s rich tapestry of work over these past six decades, and look at how things have both changed and stayed the same.
Something that has stayed the same is the incredible support from our community. Please make your special end-of-the-year contribution today.
Building International Friendship
Volunteer workcampers in the summer of 1964 in Puebla
In the summer of 1939, international volunteers labored alongside Mexicans to build a school in Santa Ana de Pilar in the state of Coahuila. Working under the care of the American Friends Service Committee, the Mexican government, and local villagers, this was the first Quaker workcamp in Mexico.
The program eventually brought thousands of volunteers from around the world to live and work in rural Mexican villages with the goal of strengthening international relations from the ground up and supporting local development. This program changed lives; the workcamps created generations of young leaders from many countries with deep-seated respect and solidarity for Mexico, and a global vision of interconnectedness and friendship. As one former workcamper expressed, “We felt that that work expanded the world for us and infinitely enriched our personal lives.”
The world has changed many times over since the days of the workcamps. Casa de los Amigos, established in 1956 to serve as the workcamp headquarters and to do Quaker peacework in Mexico, has evolved constantly to maintain its vision of peaceful coexistence in an ever-shifting world.
The transformative power of friendship, of bringing many different people together in fellowship under one roof, continues to break down barriers between people at the Casa today. The Casa’s Hospitality and Volunteer Programs are an open door to the same kinds of life-changing experiences that workcamp volunteers experienced from the 1940s to the 1980s.
Casa volunteers today have a deeper and more complicated experience learning what it really means to be “in solidarity” with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions.
This year the Casa has had volunteers from Mexico, Colombia, USA, Germany, Poland, Canada, and England who spend every day together, figuring out how to best support local cooperatives while also figuring out how to get everyone to wash their dishes. Laura, a former full-time volunteer in the Casa, shared with us about her experience a few years back:
“During my time at the Casa my world-view both expanded to encompass a global perspective and contracted to focus on my immediate community. I developed a sense of solidarity that helped me move from seeing myself as a separate ‘helper’ to those in need to seeing my life as inexorably wrapped up in the lives of those around me. These days, the legacy of my time at the Casa shows itself in my life in a variety of ways. Every time I share a meal at a big potluck, chat with my Mexican neighbors in the front yard, participate in community or state activism, or find a moment of silence in the middle of a hectic day, I am reminded of the ways the Casa is still reflected in the ways I live, think and work.”
Former workcampers, volunteers and guests often share about ways the Casa’s has influenced their lives. How has the Casa impacted you?
Your stories and support will help us move into the next chapter of our lives as 2016 will be a year of celebration and reflection. Our very own Nicholas Wright is working on writing a book about the Casa’s history and legacy, stay tuned for more details.
Write us back at email@example.com to tell your story and click here help us end our 59th year strong by making a special end-of-the-year donation.
Thank you so much! In a few days, look out for our next email about the Casa’s then and now.
And save the date! The Casa’s 60th anniversary celebration weekend will be October 21 – 23rd, 2016.