Before this summer, I knew little of Mexico. I knew only the things I heard and saw from the media.
However, an opportunity came for me to expand my knowledge of Mexico, by becoming the project manager for AIESEC US's exchange programs with Mexico. When I first decided to take that opportunity, many people asked me why I decided to go to Mexico. Here's why:
I believe that, with so many misconceptions about Mexico in our current political climate in the United States, it is crucial to experience Mexico for what it truly is, and break through the stereotypes.
I come from Texas, a place that many people have misconceptions about, and that people are quick to stereotype without ever having visited. Because of this, I can understand the gap between what people say about Mexicans and the reality of who they really are. Mexican culture and tradition is all around us down here, from the food to the language, to entertainment and many more. Living in Texas, it's easy to see how the two cultures have merged. Specifically, Tex-Mex is a fusion of Texan and Mexican food.
Having experienced one side of that equation, I knew I needed to see the other side of the border.
When I went to Mexico, I lived with a host family. Family has always been very important to me, and my experience would have never been what it is without my amazing host family. From my host family, I learned the warmness and generosity of the Mexican people. I was humbled by my experience with them, to see a family work so hard and be able to provide for me. I was able to see my siblings balance school and work life, to see my brother wake up in the early morning to work, and see my dad work odd hours to provide for his family. It really showed how truly fortunate I am. It’s hard to admit privilege sometimes but this experience has humbled me greatly.
Capi, Yola, Diego, Nancy, and Lily, mi familia! You guys are everything and I will always hold you guys in my heart.
As I worked, I reminded myself that I wasn’t there solely to bring them my American values. That doesn’t take away from my project but seeing people come to other countries just to preach was not my plan. I taught yes, but I learned that Mexicans will be able to shape their own future. The public university acceptance rate for the students I taught was around 10-15% -- on par with the Ivy League universities in the US! These students all came from different socio-economic backgrounds. They worked so hard to get to where they were and they inspired me so much. I’m happy to share my background and knowledge with them and I did so. I learned from the students as much as they did from me. I came back to the States even more inspired and empowered to do good for the world.
I can’t say enough about my wonderful experience with AIESEC Mexico, and specifically with AIESEC IPN, the local chapter that created and made my project a reality, from the new friends I made to the excursions they held for me to explore their wonderful country. I can’t say enough about my reception and servicing!
What made my experience all the more special is the knowledge that other students, just like myself, created these impactful experiences.