During orientation week, Stewards from Ecuador, France, Georgia, Ghana, Mexico and Thailand quickly became close friends and colleagues dedicated to repair our broken food system and share their skills and culture. For the past nine seasons Hidden Villa has been MESA's cherished annual orientation site, offering farm splendor, wilderness trails, an inviting, cozy hostel, and like-minded stewards of the earth to help MESA welcome first-time Stewards to the U.S. Unable to attend the orientation, but arriving this very week, MESA also welcomes Stewards from Peru and Sri Lanka to the 2013 Program season.
ENGAGED and ENTHUSIASTIC
Engaged and enthusiastic may best describe the Stewards' participation during orientation week, from digging in with various farm activities, chatting with MESA supporters at our annual orientation dinner, reviewing program questions with MESA staff, meeting with urban and sustainable food activists in Oakland, CA, or receiving useful cooking tips from MESA's guest chef, Aileen Suzara. A sample activity that helped overcome initial language barriers would go something like this: start conversations on naming foods such as tomato and bread in everyone's respective languages, sparking the Stewards and MESA staff to engage in cultural learning. Once again we are reminded that good food is the universal language that we can all instantly speak!
AN ACTION-PACKED WEEK
In five activity-packed days, the Stewards were showered with many exercises introducing them to MESA's program. Guest presentations and activities were led by Hidden Villa farm staff, Golden Rule Farm and Ecology Action friends, and key spokespersons for Phat Beets, Planting Justice, NCAT, and Groundwork Opportunities. Role-playing activities were also a key "ingredient" to help prepare Stewards with unfamiliar situations and cross-cultural miscues. At MESA's special Farm-to-Fork Dinner, several Stewards overcame stage fright to share their personal stories of how they came to join MESA's community.
In just one short week the MESA Stewards forged allegiances with new friends from countries around the world. On the last Friday in March the Stewards travelled to their respective U.S. Host assignments across the country with an assured confidence of meeting more friends and gaining new perspectives and skills in the months to come. MESA looks forward to reuniting the group and sharing new stories when the Stewards return to California in November.
SINCERE GRATITUDE TO OUR 2013 DONORS!
FOOD DONORS: Trader Joe's – Rockridge, Earl's Organic, GreenLeaf, Natural Grocery Company, Alter Eco, Veritable Vegetable, Straus Family Creamery, Clover Stornetta Farms, The Acme Bread Company
BEVERAGE DONORS: Gordon Biersch, Cafe Mam, Traditional Medicinals
GEAR DONOR: Patagonia
Last but not least our amazing Orientation host, Hidden Villa Hostel and Farm!