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Norma writes for Selvedge Magazine Issue #109 -- Rise Up, November 2022
Norma Writes for Selvedge Latin Issue #89
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with weavers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. Our interest is in creating connection and artisan economic development.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Toursd are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop weaving relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *Selvedge Magazine-London, UK *Esprit Travel and Tours *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University *MINNA-Goods *Smockingbird Kids
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org
- WEAVE Podcast: Oaxaca Coast Textiles & Tour
- NY Times, Weavers Embrace Natural Dye Alternatives
- NY Times, Open Thread–Style News
- NY Times, 36-Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico
- Cooking Classes–El Sabor Zapoteco
- Currency Converter
- Fe y Lola Rugs by Chavez Santiago Family
- Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art
- Hoofing It In Oaxaca Hikes
- Living Textiles of Mexico
- Mexican Indigenous Textiles Project
- Museo Textil de Oaxaca
- Oaxaca Lending Library
- Oaxaca Weather
- Taller Teñido a Mano Natural Dyes
Comadres y Chismiendo: Girl Bonding Mexican-Style
Chismear (verb, meaning “to gossip”). A few days ago Janet (pronounced Yah-nette) and Dolores, her mom, and I are sitting around the table in the courtyard, gossiping about village life. Dolores had just come back from a family funeral; the brother of her deceased father in law, age 94, had just passed, and it was a time for mourning and for catching up on the talk about town. The hot feature of the day was news of a 14 year old boy who was a classmate of the Chavez’ youngest son, Omar, who had just married at 20 year old woman. The woman had moved in with the boy’s family, as is the custom for newlyweds. When Omar asked the boy at school, “what were you thinking,” the youngster replied that he was in love. To make money, he intended to drop out of school and become a tuk-tuk driver, ferrying about passengers to and from the crucero or to the market or the torilleria for 10 pesos a ride in the 3-wheeler moto-taxi. So, there we are sitting around the table, engaging in chismiendo — gossiping — about this turn of events in Teotitlan, a town of 8,000, where news of anything unusual or an impropriety travels fast. Of course, everyone at the funeral (a two-day affair, including a mass and open house with lots of food, beer and mezcal) couldn’t resist the commentary of what a 14 year old boy was doing with a 20 year old woman and why the boy’s mother didn’t put her foot down. We got a lot of mileage out of that one! The next day, another sort of tragedy happened that was far worse, and the chismiendo became one of social commentary and revisiting the values of family and behavior. A young father had been at a Saturday wedding, had too much to drink, and with his 5-year old daughter in the car, crossed over the center line going 80 km per hr, and hit a truck twice the size of his car in a head on collision. The mother was at home with her 7 week old son. The child was airlifted to the hospital in Oaxaca with a severed spinal chord and head injuries, heavily sedated to keep her from moving until the doctors could figure out what to do next. Chismiendo continued all week between families and friends, the transgressions of the father who could not remember the accident, what would happen, who was at fault most — the father or the one in the big truck who also may have crossed the center line, and what life would be like for this child if she survived. Eric’s cousin, Pedro, is a neurological surgeon and is was he who did the successful 6 hour operation several days later. The child has movement in her legs and arms and with physical therapy will regain mobility, which is the great news. As we sat around the table, talking about this, revisiting numerous times the details of the accident, the impact on the future of this family, of drinking excessively during the multitude of fiestas and celebrations around life cycle events that are continuous in the village, we explored how the reviewing of events imparts an important way of reemphasizing the values, norms and mores of the culture — that family is core, that parents must always be thinking about the well-being and safety of their children first, that drinking and driving responsibly is essential and that family and friends must also take responsibility, too, for the behavior of those who put their lives and those of their children in jeopardy. The accident was a tragic reminder of what can happen when people don’t pay attention to the consquences of their behavior.