"Blessed to Be Here"
Carlos Carillo 05
was born in Chicago and nearly died there. As a baby, he contracted a
rare blood disorder and was hospitalized for weeks. The treatment so expensive
that Carlos and his mother had to return to the familys former home,
a small village in Jalisco, Mexico when Carlos was two years old. Carlos
father remained in Chicago, working three jobs to pay off the bills and
send home enough for his family to live on. But he didnt have enough
money to visit. So Carillos first memory of his dad was when he
finally came home when Carlos was six.
" I ran to him when I saw him," Carillo says. " I was
so happy just to have a father.
That yearning to embrace his heritage colors much of Carillos life.
Isolated in his village in Jalisco, he rarely ventured further than a
nearby town until his family finally moved to Lafayette, Indiana when
Carlos was 11. Once again he was leaving a country he hadnt really
known. Rediscovering that country and culture was a powerful motivation
for enrolling in The History of the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico
Carlos wasted little
time engaging the culture hed left behind. When an elderly woman
on our flight to Mexico City needed help filling out her customs declaration,
she turned to Carlos for help. That led to a 45-minute conversation. The
woman knew Carlos village well, and she told him about her family,
about her son who had died earlier that year in a village in Jalisco.
When he visited the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City, Carlos hung back
with Professor Rick Warner, asking what each of the scenes in the Diego
Rivera murals meant.
When Professor Dan Rogers talked about Aztec history, Carlos took copious
of the Virgin of Guadalupe was the zenith of Carillos first days
in Mexico. The shrine is where the dark-skinned Virgin appeared to Juan
Diego, and where her image appeared on the manta of the bishop and is
She looked like the indigenous peoplethe first saint really
for them, Carlos explained to me outside the basilica. And
they loved her, and loved God for sending her. When I was growing up in
Jalisco I heard of this place, but I never dreamed Id ever see it.
I feel blessed to be here.
After Carlos, Juan Carlo, Joe Orozco 02 and Luis Flores 05
told the story of the Virgins appearance to the rest of the class,
Carlos continued his pilgrimage, reading every plaque, every label.
The freshman often caught details others missed. After a moving lecture
by Sergio Castro, an agronomist and self-made medic for the Mayan people,
Carlos noticed a newspaper clipping about the mans work in Chamula.
The article said an Indian had burned his leg so badly that the
doctors suggested amputation, but Sergio knew the man needed his leg order
to work, and he knew a way to save the leg, Carlos told me. He
treated the man and saved the leg, and the man was back in the fields
that fall. And instead of asking for payment, Sergio gave the man 20 pesos.
He said that he knew the man would need the money until he could work
Im not sure what my vocation is yet, but whatever I do, I
want to be a man like that, Carlos said.
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