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Spectrum Ravens fly south of border

KINGSTON — A constable of Spectrum Ravens set out on a journey yesterday that will fly them more than 2,300 miles to the Mexican state of Tlaxcala and into a whole new realm of life for nine days.

The students, carrying the theme of human rights, are traveling to immerse themselves into real-life Mexico as part of an annual opportunity that Spectrum teacher Phil Davis provides for deserving delegates from the school.

“Some teachers think I’m crazy to do this but they don’t understand if you have a good group with the right attitude, it’s fun,” Davis said of the adventure, which has been an annual event since 1997.

Davis, community volunteers Chenoa Egawa and Alex Mitchell and a group of 12 Spectrum students flew out of Sea-Tac airport April 11 on the nine-day trip, which aims to reveal similarities between people despite differences in culture and stereotypes.

The ability to take that many students was made possible by Appendix X funds as the Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes each donated $2,000 to the cause, Davis said.

While visiting Tlaxcala (71 miles east of Mexico City), the group will learn about Mexican heritage, history, arts, culture and language. For six days and five nights of the trip, Spectrum’s students will be staying with Mexican host families.

“We’ll get to see how they interact with each other on a daily basis,” student-delegate Ivan Davis said of the home stay.

“And there will be a lot of hand gestures,” Daniel Forrester added with a laugh.

The language barrier between different groups of people is one of the few concerns Spectrum students are anxious about.

Though many of the delegates are second-year Spanish students, the thought of trying to communicate with well-versed speakers causes concern. However, it should be a situation in which the students have a unique opportunity to learn.

“I like the fact that up here, I’m trying to teach a culture but down there, I don’t have to. They are surrounded by it,” Phil Davis said. “The place teaches.”

Following the group’s home-stay experience — including trips to cultural and historical sites, museums, ballets and ancient pyramids — Spectrum students will spend the remainder of the trip with their Mexican student counterparts at a environmental camp in the mountains of Tlaxcala.

The camp is an ecological site that educates Mexican farm workers on sound environmental practices, focusing on conservancy and efficiency.

Recently Spectrum’s Human Rights Exchange — an associated student body club — provided funds to help the camp conserve more of its food supply. The camp is strictly solar powered and had no way to preserve food. So last month, in association with the Kingston Rotary Club, Spectrum wired $1,100 to help the camp purchase a propane refrigerator.

The goodwill grant is a testament of the relationship between the two cultures, which has been intensifying over the years, Davis said.

“They are very friendly, probably the best friends I’ve had,” said student-delegate Jenna Dumford, who is returning to Mexico for the second year. “They listen to you and care and want to help you as much as they can while you’re there.”

The group will be returning to Kingston April 20.

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