Another Global Volunteer trip is “history!” I had been to Queretaro, Mexico with Global Volunteers before, but learned of many changes and improvements – and I was asked to go again. It was great with a team of 20 volunteers – half of whom had been on this assignment before – and with a great team leader, who seemed tireless.
We stayed in picturesque Hotel Hidalgo, an old hacienda in the historic center of a growing city. Twice a day, we walked to Mexican restaurants to dine on local cuisine, with tortillas at every meal served in a variety of ways. Of course the favorites were avocados, rice and beans. I discovered that prickly pear cactus leaves, carefully prepared with mole in fete pots, were delicious!
Our work at UTEQ (the University of Technology of Queretaro) was great. We took the school bus or taxis daily from 7am to 2pm or from 3pm to 9pm. Every English teacher wanted a chance to have us, so collectively, we must have talked to 4, 000 students in the two-week period! Each hour we were given a group of students who had prepared questions to stimulate conversation with “these Americans.” The idea is that they will hear English being used to really communicate and to learn about the volunteers’ cultures. Our contributions are much appreciated and said to benefit students in finding jobs in the growing industrialization of the city. The students were eager to try their skills with us, although they had to struggle and work through noisy environments and varied accents. The teachers and students were warm, helpful, and beautiful.
The centuries-old city grew on me! The churches located on every corner are grand with gold leaf, stone carvings, huge wooden doors, and monuments which rival those I’ve seen elsewhere. The parks/plazas have trees manicured to perfections and swept clean daily by women who start work at 4am. There is music, dancing, colorful balloons, shoe shine chairs, kiosks of food venders, and stunt performances. It is said to be the safest city too! The streets and sidewalks are uneven brick, but there was always a ready arm or (from a student) to assist me with walking.
The sunshine was warm at full strength and cool in the shade, mornings, and evenings. Mexicans could not imagine the five feet of snow on the level with ice cycles that reached the snowdrifts outside the window of the apartment I came home to. In all, it was a wonderful program!
– Eunice Hop