Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: August 21 Monica's Log

Wanna visit another country? These youth are doing it. Find out how!

Outside of camp

"You won't believe this. My friend asked me, "Where's Mexico?". I told her that Mexico was near Portugal. The sad thing was, she believed me."
--Line Valso, 18, Norway

"I have a full schedule when I'm at home. Here in Mexico, I want to make the most of my time, learning Spanish, eating fruits, making new amigos and amigas, and going to the ocean."
--Lisa Festerling, 16, Germany

Welcome to the AFS Orientation for Mexico! 80 kids are gathered here from all over the world, about to spend six months living in Mexico — attending Mexican schools and living with Mexican families! They were kind enough to let Shawn and me come along (Silvia is already at Casa Alianza).

AFS AmbulancesAFS was started 51 years ago. A group of people wanted to make a difference in World War II but didn’t want to fight so they organized themselves to be ambulance drivers. To help prevent wars like that from happening again they then organized a program for students to study in different countries to learn about different people.

Today through AFS, you can go on exchange programs to over 55 countries and spend a year going to school and living with a host family. If you want to learn more or if you want to see the countries you could visit, check out the AFS website!

Monica and students from NorwaySo here I am right now with students from Norway and Germany. One student, Asle (pronounced OS-leh) is the only student who will live with a host family in Mexico City. He is excited to be here because his hometown has only 2000 people, and now he will live for a year in the biggest city in the world.

Another student Line (pronounced LEE-na) told me that to be in AFS, you have to have an open mind. You can't have preconceived Students from Norwaynotions, because often, what you expect turns out to be totally different from what is actually happening. She told me a story to help me understand the way people can be confused by different cultures. Read the story and see if you can figure out what is going on and why these people are acting this way!

Remember, this is a made-up story where you are going to guess what is happening. It is NOT about Mexico!


You're in a room lit with candles. If you're a girl, you're seated barefoot on the floor. If you're a guy, you sit on a chair and keep your shoes on.

Nina and AsleStrange music plays, kind of a spiritual melody, over and over. They don’t talk using words. They only make weird little chirping noises.

There is man sitting on a big chair with his shoes on and a crown on his head. A woman sits on the ground next to him, and he continually pushes her head down to the ground, in time with the slow rhythm of the music.

Some people bring some food in on a tray. If you're a guy, you eat first. If you're a girl, you wait until the guys are finished.

The people who brought in the food are now massaging all the girls' feet. They keep massaging until they come to a girl with very large feet, the biggest in the room. They take her to the man with the crown and sit her on the ground. The man puts a crown on her head and pushes her head slowly to the ground.

This goes on for two hours.

Is it better to be a boy or a girl in this story?
Why do the boys wear shoes and the girls don’t?
Why do the boys eat first?
And is it good to be chosen to be the woman with the crown or not?
Is this culture very educated or not?

Check out the solution to Line's Story...


Related Dispatches: 
Monica - Wanna visit another country? These youth are doing it. Find out how!
Shawn - Mexico - It's all about Tequila and sombreros, right? It's not?
Shawn - Shawn vs The World in basketball.
Shawn - Meet Suppalak, Jitlado, and Asle!

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