By Rodrigo Gutierrez and Maiyen Sulera Frere
There’s nothing like traveling to a different part of the world to develop a new perspective. Through the Allendale Columbia Center for Global Engagement, a group of 11 students and two teachers traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on a cultural immersion trip during AC’s 2019 May Term.
The following notes and photos are taken from a series of emails sent to parents of the students on our AC Mexico trip. (Check back for updates.)
May 26th, 2019
Hi everyone. We wanted to send out an update and some pictures now that the girls are turning in for the night. Today was an amazing day filled with wonderful and unique experiences. After a great beach side breakfast (highlighted by local fruits such as papayas and watermelon) we received an orientation from Elly Rohrer, the founder and director of Human Connections. She spoke about responsible tourism, Puerto Vallarta, indigenous cultures, and other topics related to our trip.
We then met three artisans/entrepreneurs who told us about their work and their lives . The girls were fascinated and inspired by Leonarda, a member of the Wixaritari indigenous community, who spoke about having to work and take care of herself from the age of 11. Her greatest pride is being able to provide for the education of her 3 children. Nallely, originally from Mexico City, prepared us a home cooked meal (Chile relleno-stuffed pepper, rice and beans, and fruit water). The girls especially enjoyed conversing with her daughter who is 16 and in high school.
Rolando, an indigenous Zapotec weaver demonstrated his work, showed us how red dye was made from dried insects, and allowed the girls to try one of his looms. We then spent some time on the beach and walked down to the central square for some desserts. Tomorrow the girls will get to meet the Harkness students and begin their homestays.
May 29th, 2019
Good morning! It’s hard to believe we have been in Mexico 5 days now. Between days full of excursions and evenings hanging out with host students the days are flying by.
On Tuesday we visited a mango/flower orchard started as a passion project by a husband and wife. We learned that there are over 90 varieties of banana flowers (some pictured below).
We then visited a ranch were another husband and wife have begun a restaurant and would like to expand their business to include cabins and pools in order to draw people to more areas outside of the traditional vacation spots.
Yesterday we visited the renowned Entre Amigos community center in San Pancho and learned how it serves its community not only by providing educational enrichment but also promoting conservation and environmental protection.
The AC Center for Global Engagement at Allendale Columbia is committed to growing and fostering partnerships around the world, exposing students to global opportunities and multicultural perspectives in preparation for college and the global workforce, and creating a culture of global responsibility that allows students to make a positive and lasting impact on the world they will inherit.
Universities and colleges are increasingly interested in students who have experienced the world, have studied multicultural perspectives, have a sense of global empathy and responsibility, and are ready to be global leaders.
The AC Center for Global Engagement focuses on a proprietary curriculum that supports AC’s Global Diploma. In this program, students embark on service-learning, research, entrepreneurial and cultural-immersion international trips, and participate in leadership and exchange opportunities within the local community and across the world.
Rodrigo GutierrezRodrigo brings 14 years of experience, having served as a history and geography teacher in public, private, and charter schools in Texas, Connecticut, Arizona, and Delaware. In addition to teaching, Rodrigo has also served as a Department Chair, baseball and basketball coach, and mock trial advisor. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Yale University and his Master of Arts Degree in History from the University of Texas, Austin.
Maiyen Sulera Freyre