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

Mexico - It's all about Tequila and sombreros, right? It's not?

Shawn helps out Gabby Curiel, Orientation LeaderMonica and I arrived at Rancho Abajo last night with about 20 High School students from Norway and Germany. This place is high in the mountains above Mexico City in a beautiful valley surrounded by forests and rolling hills. It is much colder here than I expected for AugustJamaican student in a sub-tropical region. We are here on the retreat with AFS (read Monica’s journal to find out more). Even though Monica and I are not exchange students, AFS has allowed us to join them and has arranged for us to live with Mexican "host families" to help us learn more about life here. We’ll join the families next week.

Today we did some activities that were designed to see what we thought Mexico was like and how it compares to our homelands. We started by making collages from Mexican Magazine clippings. One side depicted our home countries and the other what we thought about Mexico.

Monica talked with some of them about what they thought their experience in Mexico would be like. These are some of the things they said:
AFSers working on their collages

  • Many new friends
  • Big families
  • Hot food (lots of chilies)
  • Cute Mexican boys
  • Strict Mexican fathers
  • Speaking in Spanish
  • Lots of parties
  • Dressing more formally
  • Going to Church
  • Not being allowed to hitchhike
  • Might get very sick and not get to a doctor
  • Have to shave my legs more often because we'll be wearing more skirts
  • Lots of sunshine
  • It will make my vision wider, will help me "look into a new world"
  • When I go back to my home country, I will have changed

Finished collagesThe students almost all found pictures of sombreros and tequila. The camp counselors went to great lengths to explain that Mexico is not a non-stop tequila party, and very few people wear sombreros any more. JuliaThey also made certain that we knew that typical Mexican families are much stricter than most European or American parents are, and so we should all be on our best behavior here. Things like dating or staying out late are tolerated much less here. Students were warned they would be sent home if they could not comply with their families’ rules.

I wonder what the students here are thinking. They come from all over the world and have seen what it is like when parents are strict and when they are not. In the US a lot of parents aren’t very strict, but a lot of them aren’t even around for their kids, and a lot of kids get in serious trouble.

Japanese studentsWhat is your opinion? Should parents be strict or not strict? What is good and bad about each? If you write to us at The Odyssey we’ll put your ideas up on our bulletin board for everyone to see this week. You can e-mail us at

Tonight we are expecting around 50 more youth from all over the world. I admire the courage of these students, most of whom do not speak Spanish, and are leaving their homes and families at what is already a difficult stage of life and throwing themselves into a completely foreign environment.


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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