Piaxtla Training Efforts and The Golden Rule
Of our other youthful assistants whom Project Piaxtla is helping to educate and train, Martín Reyes returned to visit and learn from Dr. Carlo Besio, veterinarian in Portola Valley, California.
Meanwhile, I took Miguel Alvarez to visit my father in New Hampshire to learn some English before entering 8th grade in Palo this fall. Although Miguel – who comes from an isolated rancho an hour’s walk from Ajoya – is a brilliant student, he will be unable to receive credit for his year of study in the U~S.A., for the Mexican educational system, and tight federal control, has no provision for accepting foreign students (except for children of diplomats). Yet Miguel is very eager to study in the States, and the experience could prove beneficial in many ways. English will, of course, be a big asset when working in our clinic with American doctors. More important, I believe, is that Miguel will be living with George and Sally Dueker, long-time coordinators for Project Piaxtla. The Duekers are among the most generous and dedicated people I know. The experience for Miguel of living with persons who know the joy (and sometimes exhaustion) of giving of themselves for no other reward than personal satisfaction may prove the most valuable factor in encouraging him to continue serving his village after he grows up.
Such emphasis is very important, for the Golden Rule is little taught In the Mexican educational system. The value system, particularly at the professional level tends to indicate that one’s personal worth is proportionate to the size of the city he ends up in, and how much he can successfully charge for his services. Thus one finds 40% of Mexican doctors in Mexico City, where competition is fierce, while 50 of the “municipios” (counties) have not a single doctor or nurse.
On reading this, there may be those who remark that we have the same problem in the United States. To some extent, this is true. Still and all, the Judeo-Christian ethic of “selfless help” with sole reward of personal satisfaction (and-some neighborly approval) is indisputably more developed in the United States than in Latin America – or anywhere else on earth.
It is hard to imagine, for example, an American mother threatening to disown her son because he joined the Peace Corp. Yet just this happened with our private “peace corps." in México. † Marcos, a young economics student from Culiacán, became very excited abut our project in the barrancas and volunteered his help. He spent several weeks with us, soaking up knowledge of first aid and emergency care. His next summer vacation, he went into the mountains about 70 miles north of us and volunteered his service to the isolated villages. At this his mother was so furious, she threatened to disown him. The last time I saw Marcos, he was so enthusiastic abut his mountain experience he was considering becoming a doctor. I hope he retains his ideals, and if he gets his M.D. that he returns to the mountain villages.
† The Mexican Government has never permitted the American Peace Corps.
Mexico - as many points elsewhere - is in desperate need not so much of political revolution as ethical evolution in the schools, in the home, and in the individual heart..