Students enjoy south of the border visit

KINGSTON — For the 10th consecutive year, a small group of Spectrum Community School students enthusiastically packed their bags for a trip to Mexico.

Trip coordinators Phil Davis, Beth Mosely and 10 students departed for Mexico April 5, before returning home April 14.

Pupils making the trip to Mexico included Marissa Gagne-Roth, Melanie Fowler, Daniel Forrester, Casey Patterson, Steve Dowden, Ashley Markwick, Erin Mathieson, Kavi Fontes, Jennie Bennett and Kaui Lani. During the trip, students conducted an environmental workshop while working with a school and a local community environmental group during its stay in Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala.

Gagne-Roth was one of the few students who had visited Mexico in the past. Even so, this was her first time she actually was able to travel into the heart of the country.

“Where we stayed is a lot different than the town I went to on the border,” Gagne-Roth said. “On the border there was always people trying to sell you stuff and bargain with you. This time when I went it was totally different. We were totally immersed in their culture and stayed with their families. We became part of their community.”

Not only did they become part of the neighborhoods, they spoke the language as well.

“A lot of people there couldn’t understand English at all so we had to speak as much Spanish as could,” she said. “It was cool.”

Lani saw firsthand how tight knit families are in Calpulalpan compared to those in other parts of the world.

“They have such a close bond with their family members,” Lani said. “While we were down there, they really accepted us and took us in as a part of their families. They got attached to us.”

Forrester’s favorite part of the trip was when the group made the two-hour trek to Mexico City.

“At first I was like ‘whoa’ when I first got there. It was so big,” Forrester said. “After awhile though I started to realize that it’s the same as any other big city. It’s not that different.”

Forrester even got an opportunity to experience part of everyday life for locals.

“There wasn’t enough room in one of the taxis so I rode the metro with the locals,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

While students were awed by the sights and sounds of Mexico City, Patterson said he most enjoyed spending time in countryside outside of Calpulalpan.

“It was about two hours away from (Calpulalpan) and was pretty much out in the woods,” Patterson said. “It was a really good escape and we were at about a 7,000 feet elevation. We got a chance to climb up the side of a mountain.”

Patterson discovered something he’d never seen before when he woke up in his dorm room during the early morning hours.

“When we woke up in the morning, you could see scorpions in the dorm room,” he said, adding that no one was terrified by the nocturnal visitors.

Davis said the trip was something students will remember for the rest of their lives.

“We made a connection with the people there,” Davis said. “We presented an environmental workshop that’s part of our human rights club. We saw museums, went to Mexico City and even camped out.”

All in all, the trip was an educational experience going beyond the doors of a classroom.

“It was a great cultural exchange,” he said. “We assimilated into their culture.”

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