Sunday, November 9, 2008



8:30 AM breakfast meeting at the hotel. Today is a free day, a break from our daily routine a day to do as we please.

WE received word that an important church official was to arrive in Delores, and that a parade and celebration would take place around the plaza in front of the church. We all opted to observe the event which was intriguing, brief (the wait was longer than the event.

Now the day was ours. Mist of us went our separate ways to enjoy the aroused city in our own manner. It seems that Sunday is the day for all activity to ride from the daily mechanics and burst into a conglomeration of sights; sounds; smells; and family activity. I relished my presence here.

At 7:00 PM Carl rejoined our group for the evening meal at trip to t eh Pollo Sabroso Restaurant, an impressive establishment that is out of the ordinary for the area, and only open on the weekends, proved to be totally delightful experience, and well worth the wait. We ended the night by listening to some music in the town square.

THOUGTH FOR THE DAY: Never underestimate the power of common courtesy.

Larry Hess

Friday, November 7, 2008



Another early day began with a 6:45 breakfast meeting. The first meal of the day was the usual fare, but an addition to the morning routine this day was something called Amaranth, which is a mixture of mystery grain that looked like birdseed, and some sort of edible adhesive. The whole concoction was molded to resemble a skull in honor of the continuous “Day of the Dead” celebration. After Carl mangled the treat to cut it into slices, it still proved to be a tasty discovery.

While still at breakfast, Carl reviewed our itinerary for Saturday’s trip to Victoria, and explained that he was unable to join us. We all exchanged E-mail addresses and then it was time to be off to the University.

We did our usual trek in the brisk morning air, and progressed through a light work schedule at t eh school. Each Group had two classes in the morning beginning at 8:00 A.M. The classes pretty much mimicked the previous days and we were done teaching by 10:00 A.M. At this time we sadly said good-bye to Pam as she left for her trip home. I think she now regrets signing on for only one week. Adios Pamela!

The rest of us piled into Chuy’s car and drove to the Mendez Torres pottery factory. There we toured the factory with each step of the fabrication process explained to us by a guide who spoke only Spanish. Chuy translated until Ruby commandeered the task.

WE returned to the hotel after the tour and had our lunch with pleasant conversation. After we ate we were free to do our own thing. Thanks to Nan who allowed me to use her laptop computer, I was able to send an E-mail home. Then for me it was off to Delores Hidalgo to venture into an unfamiliar world. The others preceded me into that world. We met back at the hotel at 7:00P.M., for our evening meal. I have found our meals are not only quite delectable, but they always include a pleasant conversation among friends. When finished, we all engaged in making sandwiches for our trip to Victoria before we retired for the night.


My thought for the day come from a man that I most admire:

“It is better to give a dog the right-of-way rather than dispute the fact with him. For even if you kill the dog, it will not cure the bite”. Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 5, 2008 Global Volunteers Journal – The day after the Presidential Election

Thought for the day:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And brings the tune without words
And never stops at all
-- Emily Dickenson

This morning we were giddy. Not only because we rose at an unusually early hour to meet our 6:30 A.M. departure deadline, but also because most of us were celebrating the exhilarating Obama victory and his inspiring victory speech. We met at 6:00 A.M. for coffee and breakfast bars with Jamie and Chuy. Armed with snacks, we boarded our Mercedes bus for the trip to Leon and morning of classes at UTL. We were accompanied by selected students from UTNG English classes.

Our bus wound through beautiful mountain scenery and picturesque city of Guanajuato which impressed our Global group with its beauty.

Arriving at UTL, we were greeted by the English Department staff, offered fruit and cheese to sustain us, and then whisked off to our class assignments. Team I and II each met with four classes. We all agreed that we were very impressed with the Leon students and staff, and we enjoyed a variety of class formats during our brief stay. We particularly appreciated the preparation and thoughtful questions posed by the Leon students who interviewed us concerning the Presidential election and U.S policy.

Following our morning classes we were served a delicious lunch in the staff meeting room which had been prepared by one of the teachers. Our Global Group was presented with individual awards in recognition by the Dean of the English Department. After a few photo ops in front of Global Volunteers banner, we boarded the bus for our return to Delores.

We enjoyed a few hours of "down time" during which some volunteers were wowed by a charismatic Catholic mass at the church on the plaza. Dinner at El Carruaje was a treat – the enchiladas verdes were delicious. WE topped off the evening with a nightcap at the Suite Bar next door to Las Campanas. Imanuel served us well and Janet enjoyed his version of “La Bandera”, a drink served in three parts and representing the 3 colors of the Mexican flag- white, green, and red, represented by lime juice, tequila, and spicy tomato juice.

Finally, it’s to bed in anticipation of another very busy day in Delores.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nov. 4th - Election Day

From Janet Brown

After a breakfast which included Pan de Muerto the volunteers strode or taxied to the university. Group I met with Rosalia’s class where the students were prepared to ask many questions. Group II met with Marcia’s group where the students practiced listening and note taking.

Today’s classes ranged from level 1 students whose English was very limited to upper levels where for example, conversational sessions with Nathan’s class included practicing interviewing skills.

One adjustment to the schedule occurred with our Spanish instruction class which is postponed to another day. It gave the group time to put our feet up (figuratively) and share experiences. I was glad to hear Larry say that this is one of the best experiences of his life. I found it interesting to share the details of ice fishing in Northern Wisconsin – I don’t think that the students believed that people would sit on ice and catch fish through a hole.

After school, Karl led an expedition through the market where we saw all manner of things for sale from food to clothing to gadgets for children.

We had dinner at the Hotel El Caudillo where Larry continued his enjoyment of mole and some of the others had chicken smothered with a sauce made from corn fungus.

We adjourned to our hotel to check out election results on Fox, the only English language election returns available. We had to go to bed before all results were in as we have an early morning trip to Leon

Thought for the Day: “We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together, and if we are to live together, we have to talk.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, November 3, 2008


Our morning started at 8:30, our country coordinator Carl explained that we will meet with some of our teachers for breakfast. A fantastic breakfast was served at what only can be described as the courtyard of a beautiful impressive renovated home. From there we retired to a private meeting room in the back of the restaurant, loosing Dean in the process. Concern for his whereabouts a search was started. And he was found at the University. We were then divided into two teams. We entered the school seeing many of the young excited faces of the student body as we entered. After a meeting with the Dean of the school and his impressive introduction of each Global Volunteer Team 11, we all felt very welcome, and a lot more important than we thought..

We then went to classrooms, were introduced to the students, shared some of our personal historys, and were presented with a list of questions to ask the students. The early morning class was for beginner English speaking students, difficult but fun. The afternoon class was for intermediate students who had a beginning understanding of English, although not confident in their speaking skills there were lively conversations, and questions were exchanged on many topics. We were all asked about the Presidential elections by both teachers and students and we were surprised by their interest in the subject.

Team 1 assignment was to teach adults and advanced English speakers late in the day, Team 2 mission was to shop for our needed supplies, so we were off to Mercado Soriana, the large “Walmart” type store where Nan purchased a bright purple rolling backpack for just under $13.00 US dollars. My teammates agreed that yes, bright purple was my color.

We returned to the hotel with our supplies and met up with Team 1. Our new G.V. Larry loved his introduction to Mexico and the Global Volunteer goals, and the students and facility of the University. A remark uttered by Larry that this had been “one of the best days of his life” and the veteran Global Volunteers said in unison-"yes we know."

Dinner was once again a great success, and then it was time to retire to our rooms and groan at the early hour to once again forge ahead.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Yes, we can make a difference!

Nan Houston Lovejoy

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Everybody arrived luggage and all – yesterday. All safe and looking forward to another Global Volunteer adventure. There are six of us plus Carl, our country manager.

The whole team officially met for the first time over breakfast. Introductions were made and background info exchanged. Following that we had our team orientation. Carl led by explaining his Global Volunteers role. After-wards Carl took the group on a walking, shop until you drop tour. We had a late lunch and waited for our ride. During our fast but safe trip, we passed through San Miguel De Allende, otherwise known as “Gringo Gulch” and arrived at out Delores Hidalgo hotel about fiveish.

Following time to unpack, Carl took the group on another walking tour followed by dinner. A busy day indeed!

Dean Houston

Arrival at Dolores Hidalgo

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: If crime didn’t pay, who would bother to be a crook?

Everybody arrived luggage and all – yesterday. All safe and looking forward to another Global Volunteer adventure. There are six of us plus Carl, our country manager.

The whole team officially met for the first time over breakfast. Introductions were made and background info exchanged. Following that we had our team orientation. Carl led by explaining his G.V. role. After-wards Carl took the group on a walking, shop until you drop tour. We had a late lunch and waited for our ride. During our fast but safe trip, we passed through San Miguel De Allende, otherwise known as “Gringo Gulch” and arrived at out Dolores Hidalgo hotel about fiveish.

Following time to unpack, Carl took the group on another walking tour followed by dinner. A busy day indeed!

Dean Houston

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday July 16

Okay, so just exactly how are we going to cram all of those Talavera pots and platters into our suitcases for the trip home? Today seemed to be the beginning of the transition from Global Volunteer back to plain old tourist, and when Carl handed out the evaluation sheets at breakfast, we were jolted into the realization that this project is coming to an end and we are thinking of home.

But today isn’t the time for nostalgia or reminiscing—it is more a time of tying up loose ends. We took one final group picture for the poster that Jeanne and Ofra are putting together for the Posada las Campanas gallery of Global Volunteers. We settled small debts that were left from last week’s taxi rides and we huddled over the computer changing flight times and comparing departures. Some of use are still trying to make those phone cards work and others are finalizing bus schedules to Guadalahara and San Miguel de Allende.

We walked the mile to UTNG, familiar with those uneven sidewalk humps that were threats to our safety just a week ago. And now we can easily maneuver those congested intersections like the locals, and we can easily find building D and the English offices when we reach campus.

For eight days the English faculty has welcomed us into their space, where we’ve hung out between classes getting to know Vero, Gaby, Lucio, Chuy, Bill and Rosalia…two weeks ago we didn’t even know they existed and today we feel the bond of sharing a common goal—teaching those kids to say “bizzy”, not “bussy” and “pr-ah-ahblem”, not “pro-o-blem. Today we worked on possessive pronouns, dialogues to use in a store if you have a “prah-ahblem”, weather vocabulary, and parts of speech. We volunteers went to our last Spanish class with Chuy but today no curious students hung around the door to get a glimpse of us struggling with a second language.

This afternoon many of us were running last-minute errands, buying the small stuff—bracelets for the grandkids, tiny iguanas for the neighbor, and a t-shirt for the friend who doesn’t quite rate a Talavera pot. Brenda gave her presentation dealing with accounting to a packed auditorium and Ellen and Jeanne shared their thoughts on the importance of learning a second language and how it has enriched their lives. Jeanne statement that "You can curse the dark or you can light a candle” seemed to resonate with everyone as the real purpose of our stay here.

We have learned many things during the last 12 days. We know to cross the street to avoid bird poop falling from the sky. We know that a motorcycle just might roll down the hotel hallway at midnight, and that the water might be hot or it might be cold, and that we might be able to make a cell phone connection—or not. But one thing we all know for sure is that the beautiful lady at the hotel desk—Gigi—will never understand a word that we say.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Life is a journey...not a destination. Enjoy the trip!"

Classes didn't begin until 11:20, so we were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. The servers have gotten to know our preferences, such as who likes huevos con jamón or sin jamón. Most of us made it up to the University, although two of our members were unfortunately too ill to volunteer today. We all wish them a speedy recovery.

Three classes were on our schedule, but attendance was sparse at the first class and the second class was canceled completely due to a conference given by a representative from Pemex. After a one hour break we continued with our third class.

Team III stayed on campus for Conversation Club but no students attended today. At 5:00 they helped Gaby with a Continuing Education class. Vickie particularly enjoyed working with 11 and 13 year old students who were at the intermediate level in their English. All of the team members worked with groups of two or three playing a game planned by the always organized Gaby.

Amelia bravely gave a talk on Human Resources to about 30 students who were attentive and appreciative. One of her students approached her afterward and said, "Excellent, Amelia!"

Our evening meal was a barbecue hosted by Pompeyo at his other hotel just a few blocks away. Everyone was in attendance at our outdoor tables cooled by a fresh breeze. We were served steak, sausage, guacamole, tortillas, vegetables, and quesadillas. Wine and tequila were offered by our generous host. We walked back to our hotel tired but happy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday, July 10

We were all up bright and early for breakfast at 7 AM so Team I, Ofra, and Toni could leave at 7:30 for the trip to Victoria. Unfortunately, due to a communication error, they did not get underway until after 8:00.

The rest of us went to our classes at UTNG starting after 10:00. One of the topics of the classes was the weather---vocabulary and expressions.

Teams II and III had a Spanish class with Rosalie. We learned some common Spanish expressions such as " Buen Provecho " which Mexicans often use in place of "Buen Apetito". When Rosalie learned that some of us were planning to go to San Miguel on the weekend, she gave us her telephone number there and said to call her and she would be happy to show us her Mexican home.

After lunch, Jesse, Emily, Gail, and Karen took a taxi to visit the mausoleum of Rey Jose Alfredo Jiminez. The driver played his music for us on the return trip. Churches were also visited and others checked out pottery shops.

For the volunteers who went to Victoria, they were assigned groups of three to six students. They helped their groups in putting on a skit. They coached them in pronunciation of the dialog, memorizing, and acting out the situations. After the skits were presented, the students taught the volunteers a Spanish song and the volunteers taught the volunteers the students an American song, the most popular one being "The Hokey Pokey".

After lunch, local artisans visited the school and there was an opportunity to purchase items such as embroidered work, straw baskets, and bags. The volunteers were then taken on a tour of downtown Victoria.

The day ended with volunteers talking to people from the school, be the person working in the Registrar's office or the janitor.

In the evening we all gathered together again at the restaurant "Pollo Sobrusco" for the evening meal.

Submitted by Gail Feagins


A woman of courage enters a room and everyone is put at ease. There is something appealing in the way she walks and in the way she holds herself.

Submitted by Brenda

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

July 9 08 GV Dolores Hidalgo

Awakened by the kama kazi stealth mosquito prior to the 5.40 Church bell alarm. I think the Church Bells is the only prompt and predictable thing in Mexico.

Carl, Sue and I had our first experience at the Gold's Gym...prior to buying our 2 week pass we perused the Photos at the front of Gold"s of LA which has photos and autographs of all the famous members, and decided that I will look like Michelle Feiffer and Carl will look like Mel Gibson after the two weeks, it was guaranteed when we paid.

Had a good breakfast at Plaza one of our two (and basically only) eating emporia in DH --the waiters try not to groan when they see the mob of 16 descending upon them.

After breakfast we went to UTN for our 3 classes in a row. It was gratifying to start to see some familiar faces and to feel a sense of knowing them a bit from the last time we met, and I personally hope that we have the opportunity to work in small groups with the same students again when we go back to the same classes next week, since it helps to feel a connection with them. Although it was good to move from Ice Breakers (since you can only talk about your home town ,family and favorite Mexican foods so many times) to more structured tasks, the level differences seem to be challenging for some of us, since it seems like sometimes the materials we are asked to use are difficult for some of the students. One of the "interesting " lessons included a set of questions such as WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOUR COLLEAGUE SMELLS? and WHAT IF YOU ARE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY AND YOU ARE EATING WITH A GROUP OF FRIENDS AND AFTER OFFERING TO PAY YOU REALIZE YOU DON'T HAVE YOUR WALLET? OR: WHAT WILL YOU WEAR ON A SPECIAL DATE . I knew there was a problem with comprehension when one of the boys in my group said he would wear a dress on the big date.

In discussion with others it seems the experiences are varied in terms of level of understanding of the students and positive outcomes in terms of impact of the small group conversation sessions.

Our team and a few others decided to forgo the cafeteria lunch and go back into town to eat, and ended up back at guessed it , the Plaza. On our way back the Plaza Central was filled with soldiers and army trucks. Some of our members were sure we were about to observe an insurrection or at least a demonstration. When I asked "que paso" to a bystander, the answer was "Nada" so undeterred , I asked a soldier, who told us that the army school students were on a trip around Guanajuato to sight- see and learn about the military history.

Some of us went off to see the Tomb of Jose Jimenez, the famous Ranchero singer and composer whose tomb is a huge sombrero and rainbow colored serape with names of his songs engraved along it, also some pretty interesting mausoleums and grave sites in other parts of the cemetery. Others had their own adventures--Juani at the Church, observing the charms and prayers pinned on the saints, Jesse with the tourism booth woman in the center square; Ofra buying aluminum foil for wrapping sandwiches; Amelia and Ron doing some local shopping.

The day ended with a special dinner guest, Carl's wife Mitzi joining us at the other (not-Plaza) restaurant , Diana providing the session on tourist destinations worth seeing in DH (a very challenging task given the huge range of possibilities that she had to choose from) and a rousing sandwich making session of Turkey, PBJ and Tuna sandwiches on Bimbo bread for Team 1's trip to Victoria tomorrow, an adventure that we are all looking forward to.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our day began very early. At 6 AM, we met in our hotel lobby and boarded a nice coach bus, along with our hosts from Dolores Hidalgo, Chewy (Jose Jesus) and Jaime and 20 students from UTNG. We traveled for 2 hours to UT Leon, where we were greeted by many English teachers and staff who made us all feel welcome.

After a lovely breakfast reception, groups of 2 or 3 Global Volunteers along with several students from UTNG went to their assigned classrooms - 6 classes each lasting one half hour. It was a whirlwind! In between, we managed to have a delicious lunch prepared by several students in the Culinary Arts program at UT Leon.

I was paired with Ellen and we had a wonderful experience. In several classes, the students were at a beginning level and enjoyed our asking each of them about their families, favorite food and free-time activities. Apart from the popular activities such as playing soccer and listening to music, many students enjoyed sleeping, shopping and watching TV, not at all dissimilar from their peers in the U.S. We also found out that our students enjoyed a rousing round of hokey-pokey! The more advanced students had prepared questions, such as "What do you think of President Bush?" , "How do you feel about racism?", "How do you like Mexican culture?", "What do you do to help the environment?", "What are your hobbies?", "Why did you decide to be a Global Volunteer?". We had very good interactions.

After lunch, some of us met with teachers from different areas. My group met with engineering teachers. They wanted to practice their skills in English with us. One of them, Javier, a mechanical engineering professor, gave us a brief tour of his laboratory/classroom.

Altogether, the day was very well organized. By the time the bus came for us at 3:30 PM, we were pretty tired and were glad to return to our home away from home, the hotel Posada Las Campanas. Our day was capped by a delicious dinner at the restaurant El Carruaje. Thanks, Carl! Thanks, Volunteers, for a great day.

Contributed by Ofra Dose

Quote contributed by Jeanne Anderson

If you plan for a year, plant a seed. If you plan for ten years, plant a tree. If you plan for a hundred years, teach the people. When you sow a seed once, you will reap a single harvest. When you teach the people, you will reap a hundred harvests.

Kuan Chung

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday, July 7th

We were off and running today with a day of conversation at the university. We started with a wonderful breakfast where we met Jaime, Gabby and Marcia from the University. Emily ordered a vegetarian meal, but hers did not come, so she ate a regular meal anyway - then her vegetarian meal came and she ate that too. Don't know how she stays so slim eating like that. I was sitting next to her and I kept an eye on my food! We had a meeting after breakfast and they explained what our jobs would be at the University. We all introduced ourselves and told a little about our life.

After the meeting, we headed to the University. Most of the volunteers walked, but a few of us got a ride with the University staff. We were met by Veronica, Rosalita and Lucio. The president of the University gave the welcome speech. We all stood up and introduced ourselves the the students. Two students from the University also welcomed us, in English. They both did a great job. We all went our separate ways with our our team members. We spent time in the classroom with the students. The teachers gave us specific ideas to work on with the students or just told us to do general conversation. The students were very shy and quiet. The were all very nervous about speaking English.

After our classes, we all went the University cafeteria and had lunch. Group 1 stayed at the University to do more conversation. We were to meet Carl in the lobby for dinner at 6pm. However, it had started to rain and it was pouring. The streets were flooding and began to come up on the sidewalk. Of course, we had to take pictures. But the best part of the rain was Pompeo making boats out of paper and floating them down the street. We waited till the rain stopped before we ventured out for dinner. The streets were still flooded in places and we were all soaked by the time we reached the restaurant, but i don't think anyone minded. It was an adventure. We all ordered dinner and wouldn't you know, the lights went out. It seemed a perfect ending for a fun day. The lights went on and we enjoyed our dinner and good conversation. As we headed back to the hotel, it began to rain again. We all headed to our rooms to dry off and for a good nights sleep. Susan got her suitcase today and she was very happy about her new clothes. It has been a good day for the global volunteers.

Todays thought for the day was presented by Diana.

So, whatever you want to do, just do it.....Making a damn fool of yourself is absolutely essential.
by: Gloria Stinem

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday, July 6

Well we're all here, and raring to go. Excited but also a little apprehensive, can we really be helpful to the students!! Oh I should say we're all here but my luggage isn't, hopefully soon. Saturday night there was lightening and some of the loudest thunder I've ever heard. So sleeping was very intermittent. Finally up at 7am and breakfast with the group at 8 am in the hotel. First thing at the dining room I ran into Ron and Amelia team members that I met on the Australia program. What a surprise and great to see them. Breakfast was a good buffet, then we were off, but not until we had a group picture at the front of the hotel with Carl trying to juggle four cameras. We met Chuy this morning. He's a teacher at the school.

There are fifteen team members and last night we met all but one. Emily flew into a different airport and was taken directly to Dolores Hidalgo. At 9 am we left for Dolores on the bus. It was a beautiful ride, but I think I missed quite a bit because I fell asleep. We are staying at the Hotel Posadas Los Companas, right near the center of town. Carl called to say he would be late because he had mechanical difficulties, so Chuy took us on a tour of the town. We know where the basics are, bank, money exchange, and internet cafe.

He also took us through the flea market. Very interesting. Lots of different sights, sounds and smells. We had lunch at the hotel, a very good chicken and veggies. After that we all went in different directions; some took a walk up to Universidad to see how far it is, others found an internet cafe, and still others did a little shopping. I went for a walk with Amelia and Ron and found a large shop of Talavera ceramics. Very tempting maybe we will go back.

Back to the room and a rest for awhile after checking on the Mexicana website for status of lost luggage. Nothing yet, and no answer at the phone number provided.

Dinner at 6 pm with Carl at the hotel. Very good carne asada, with guacomole, chips and margaritas. Carol had a wonderful Margarita shower three glasses and all. Team meeting during and after dinner. Introductions were made in Spanish, a new twist on the introduce the person next to you, and all of those preceding. Interviews of teammates, and introducing them to the team. Three teams were set up, and team goals were established.

Lots of questions were asked about how this teaching thing was going to work. How many students per volunteer, is it teaching or conversing. All of this will depend on the teacher, and we are reminded to be flexible. If the teacher has instructions, we follow them, if not, we wing it. Size will depend on the class. Each team is assigned to specific times frames, and no one team works more than a few hours a day. Some teams are working offsite and are gone the whole day. We also have an "entertainment" committee made of Diana and Ellen. Offra is in charge of seeing that lunches are made on days we are offsite.

This is going to be exciting and wonderful!!


Thought for the Day: "Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nations compassion, unselfish caring, patient and just plain love for one another." Erma Bombeck

Friday, June 27, 2008

June 27, 2008

Time for Celebration and Reflection!

Thursday evening was a time to celebrate our successes as Global Volunteers. Some team members enjoyed an evening at a local jazz club, while the rest were treated to a very elegant dinner with Carl and Esperanza at San Miguelitos. The decor was authentic and reflected the flavor of Mexico, but even more important, the evening gave us an opportunity to appreciate our diverse group and all we have accomplished in our mission.

But where has the time gone? Less than two weeks ago, 14 volunteers were streaming into Querétaro, full of questions and anticipation. Most of us had NO IDEA what our volunteer experience would be like! Uncertainty reigned. But now, we are experts at introducing ourselves, we know which photos to share, and most of all, we know how to make the UTEQ students feel at ease and encourage them as they work to master the English language. For days we worried about what lessons we´d be expected to follow, but now we "go with the flow."

We have learned that in some ways, the students resemble our own; they share interests in music, movies, food and sports. Yet two things stand out: their close bond with their families, and their sincere appreciation for their opportunity to obtain a quality education.

The students, with the encouragement of their teachers, are curious about us and abour our country. They want to know about our families, our favorite music, and even our marital status! But from them we learn about the history and culture of Mexico, and the places they are so proud of: Chiapas, Veracruz, and Guanajuato, among others.

But they are a thoughtful lot, too. At the end of one class, the teacher announced that there were two minutes left and to say our "good-byes." I asked the students if they had any questions for me. Immediately Antonio asked, "What do you think about the situation in your country?" Puzzled, I asked, "What situation?" "Oh, the war, immigration, oil and drugs." I laughed and said, "Antonio, all of that would take an hour!" Fortunately, I did get an opportunity to meet with him again, and we made time for an in-depth discussion, and from that, we both learned much.

As we prepare to return home, I´d like to end with a statement from an UTEQ student. He spoke aloud what countless others have thought. He shook my hand and told me, "Thank you so much for coming. I like this when we get authentic English speakers so we can learn from people who speak the language everyday."

And so, our mission in Querétaro has been accomplished!

Thought for the Day:

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June 26, 2008

Eunice presented us with a Song of the Day:

Out on the highways and byways of life
Many are weary and sad.
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife
Making the sorrowing glad.
Give as was given to you in your need
Love as the master loved you
Be to the helpless a helper indeed
Unto your vision be true.

Make me a blessing, make me a blessing
Out of my life may Jesus shine
Make me a blessing, oh Savior, I pray
Make me a blessing to someone today.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 25, 2008

Our team has now completed seven days of volunteer work and we have 3 more working days ahead of us! Yahoo!

On Monday night Carl shared with us our first day's comments on what motivated us to come together in Querétaro in the middle of Mexico. We are a unique, diversified group of talented people with the shared vision to be of service to others, to experience personal growth and to have the opportunity to learn about others in a new culture. Each of us may use different words to summarize the vision; however, we all can agree that we are here to share of ourselves with the lovely students and teachers of UTEQ´s English Department.

For today´s journal entry, I thought it would be interesting to look at our volunteer work from a different perspective. I tried to quantify the work we will have completed by this Friday. This summary is a reference and is not official:

Completed/Activity Description:
522 hours- Working with students including evenings and Saturday
13 hours- Global Volunteers meetings (orientation, morning team meetings, etc.)
20 hours- Transportation (round trip hotel to UTEQ)
555 hours TOTAL

Another way to view the 555 hours is that it would take one person working 40 hours/week over 14 weeks to complete the work we have done in 10 days!

This total does not include the approximately 60 meals we will have shared by the time we complete our volunteer work in Querétaro. Nor does it include the time and effort done by Carl.

Each of us had a personal story we can share about how our heart has been touched by the experience in Querétaro. The moments have been as simple as a quiet thank you by a student or teacher at the end of the class, a smile in the eyes of a student that understood the English words when you spoke, and as large as being invited to a student´s home for a 25th wedding anniversary or to lunch at their home. We have also been touched by the kindness of our fellow team members as we work together to bring the best of ourselves to student interaction.

Thought of the Day:

How can I say good-bye when I am just learning how to say hello?

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 23, 2008

The second week begins. We are now three less volunteers but just as motivated. At the 7 A. M. breakfast meeting, Carl hashes out the week´s schedule with opportunities to visit homes of students and evening classes.

We have a different driver this morning--maybe we wore out Arturo. In the van, the group (team) seems lively and energetic, for a Monday. The air is always cool and refreshing in the morning, the best part of the day.

My first period assignment was tutoring but no students came. Later I went to Bere and Eve´s classes. Students always listen keenly but sometimes it takes a while for them to open up. Generally about the time I am getting more students to speak, the session ends. I just hope this exposure will help them become more confident for the next time. My last two groups were more talkative. We had some great laughs together, humor being the best communicator. Example: Question: What book are you reading now? Answer: Playboy. I enjoy talking sports to some of the boys. One student played NCAA football in Miami, Florida last year.

For lunch Carl took the team to a local "fonda." This is a small mom and pop restaurant. The cook didn´t now we were coming but she adjusted quickly and accommodates with a smile. I thought the restaurant looked clean and cheery with flowers, curtains and a children´s area. Food was served quickly. I look forward to eating there again.

Jan and I were taken out to lunch by Gonzalo and Raul who teach in the IT program at UTEQ. We went to a local taco restaurant. I ate 4 spicy tacos which surprised Raul and Gonzalo. We enjoyed great adult conversation for over 2 hours, which ran the gamut from politics to Apple computers. It was the end to a perfect day.

Highlights of the first week:

  • Our team members have traveled all over the world which makes for wonderful conversations.
  • Several team members have served Global Volunteers two or more times.
  • We range from age 16-76.
  • We live all over the USA from California to the Midwest to the East Coast.
  • Several are educators or retired from the field of education.
  • We all have a desire to serve others and Be Servant Learners.
  • We are all adventuresome and curious about world cultures.
  • Waking up before dawn and hearing the sounds of the Mexican workers sweeping the streets. The people of Queretaro are very proud of their city and keep it clean and well-landscaped.
  • The very cool, crisp mountain morning air which will get quite hot by 4 P. M.
  • The sun not rising until after 7 A. M.
  • Entering the dark hallways to go to breakfast at 6:00 for our two 7 A. M. classes.
  • The 30-minute bus ride with Arturo through the city to UTEQ.
  • On the way to UTEQ, seeing many international companies such as Peugot, Volkswagon, Gerber, Bombadier, Wal-Mart and Pilgrim´s Pride and many more, which makes learning English (the national language of the business world) so critical for the students at UTEQ.
  • Eating at many local restaurants, listening to music in the plazas, museums, churches, the Aquaducto, walking among the local people, shopping at Woolworth Mexicana, Farmacia Guadalahara and other wonderful markets.
  • Our Saturday side trip to San Miguel de Allende and an appreciation for their arts and crafts
  • Our Sunday side trip to Bernal, the Magnetic Mountain and to Tequisquiapan, an authentic Mexican village and the beautiful countryside
  • Montezuma´s Revenge, sore throats and respiratory infections-- we have shared medicines, visited the doctor at UTEQ and all hope to be recovering!
  • Three team members completed their one week of service and have departed to other cities. We will miss them.
But the most important highlights were our experiences with the students at UTEQ! We all agree that these young people are phenomenal. The students are respectful, polite, cooperative, motivated and so interested in learning English! Their dedication and motivation give us energy. Their smiles, bright eyes and attention to every word is gratifying beyond words.

The instructors have allowed us many opportunities with the students as well as actually teaching lessons, playing games and singing songs. Several of the team members are professional educators and we admit these students may be the most motivated we have ever taught!

  • Several team members turored night classes on Wed. and Friday. The night classes are smaller with more adult students. The conversations we had with the older students who are more knowledgeable about world events were very enlightening. We enjoyed hearing about politics, government, international events and world trade.
  • Two team members were invited to a student´s parents´anniversary party on Wed. night.
  • Two team members were invited home with 2 students on Friday. Grandma Gloria (Jackie´s abuela) prepared delicious sopes. Both of these events are great honors!!
  • A team member spent his Saturday working with the students at UTEQ.
  • UTEQ is a lovely campus at the edge of the city. Students are studying technical careers and hope to complete 2 year degrees so they may find employment in the many industries in their city.
  • Most students have said they prefer to live in Querétaro but have a desire to speak English to advance their careers.
  • Four members toured the Avionics building where the students are being trained for employment with Bombadier, a Canadian company. Half of the avionic technical students are female! How wonderful is this!
  • It is really neat to see students in the hallway, outside, and in the cafeteria and they recognize us and say hello!
  • Now we eagerly approach our second week working with the students.
  • A quote from the volunteer manual: "This is travel that feeds the soul. Everyone benefits and because of the servant-learner, the world is a better place."
Personally, I know I will be a better teacher when I return home because I have witnessed some wonderful teaching methods from Diego, Juan Luis, Deya, Moni and Fer. They fully engage all students in small group interactions, use games and employ the Socratic method. I will always remember Juan Luis asking his students: "Tell me more." "What else do you know about?" And I will always remember hearing the teachers say to us as we left the Language office and headed off to class, "Let´s go!"

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shakers and Movers

Increasingly as the week progressed, I believe the group could be labeled the "shakers and movers." Some of us have moved multiple times within the hotel. We are moving about the campus and central Querétaro freely--not fearing being lost or feeling uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. Our shaking? Last evening there was some booty shaking in the clubs as several of our members went dancing. Others of us have been shaking as we cough, as we wretch--okay, some of us had to deal with some travelers sickness. The campus infirmary has become our friend and the doctor our buddy.

As the week has progressed, we have been shaken and moved by the students who have touched our lives. We have shared our native language skills and we have bonded with the students. At meal time we share our wonderful anecdotes of our successes and our frustrations.

How quickly these days have passed as the first week draws to a close. Tomorrow some of us will move on, whether returning home or continuing travel. However, there will not be good-byes, only "Hasta la vista y vaya con Dios."

Thought for the Day:

We are not victims of our circumstances--we are the creators.

"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."


"Be the change you want to see in the world."
--Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Angels and Demons

We are an eclectic group! We are teachers and student, artist and actor, business women and retired persons, missionary and sinners, mother and child, mentor and protege! We bring a plethora of talents, skills and ideas to the table.

We can at times be demons. The early wake-up calls, the screwy schedules, the noise in the courtyard and pillows like cement bring out a bit of evil in us.

Our angel side reveals itself in the joy we share working with the students (also known as "kids.") We see it in our growing concern and caring fellowship for each other.

I think the angels in us are winning!

Thoughts for the Day:

"Happiness is not having what you want.
Happiness is wanting what you have."

"I shall tell you a great secret, my friend.
Do not wait for the last judgment.
It takes place every day."
--Albert Camus

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June 17, 2008

I have a philosophy which indicates when to go, how, why and where. I will say, "I am hot for _____." If I have the five essentials, Go!

"I" stands for interest. Fourteen people have shown interest today in ancient Mexico, shopping, drinking Margaritas and Tequila, resting, walking and dancing.

"M" stands for money. We all needed a bunch of it to get here and volunteer with Global Volunteers, some of which goes into the economy of the community and country and some to satisfy our wants and needs.

"H" is for health.
Physical- No one has succumbed to illness yet although we lost two volunteers before we even started.
Spiritual- We need to know why we are doing this.
Mental- I think we all still have that!
Social- We´ve gotten along fairly well so far.
Emotional- There´s nothing we have not been able to work through.

"O" is for opportunity. We have been taking advantage of our opportunity to teach English to University students in groups of 1-6 for four hours a day.

"T" is for time. We have spent our time building positive relationships with students and faculty, having an adventure through service and seeking peace through understanding.

This time "I´m hot" for Mexico. I M H O T. Having those five, I hope I and my colleagues will make a difference in Mexico through our travels.

Thoughts for the Day:

The first is from Helen Keller:
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

The second is an old Chinese proverb:
If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.

June 17, 2008

I have a philosophy which indicates when to go, how, why and where. I will say, "I am hot for _____." If I have the five essentials, Go!

"I" stands for interest. Fourteen people have shown interest today in ancient Mexico, shopping, drinking Margaritas and Tequila, resting, walking and dancing.

"M" stands for money. We all needed a bunch of it to get here and volunteer with Global Volunteers, some of which goes into the economy of the community and country and some to satisfy our wants and needs.

"H" is for health.
Physical- No one has succumbed to illness yet although we lost two volunteers before we even started.
Spiritual- We need to know why we are doing this.
Mental- I think we all still have that!
Social- We´ve gotten along fairly well so far.
Emotional- There´s nothing we have not been able to work through.

"O" is for opportunity. We have been taking advantage of our opportunity to teach English to University students in groups of 1-6 for four hours a day.

"T" is for time. We have spent our time building positive relationships with students and faculty, having an adventure through service and seeking peace through understanding.

This time "I´m hot" for Mexico. I M H O T. Having those five, I hope I and my colleagues will make a difference in Mexico through our travels.

Thoughts for the Day:

The first is from Helen Keller:
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

The second is an old Chinese proverb:
If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.

Monday, June 16, 2008

June 16, 2008

On our first day we were invited to a breakfast in our honor at the university. We met the teachers and for the first time a department/major head spoke to us about his major, Environmental Technology. This was new and we could tell he was a bit nervous but we appreciated the effort. We then interacted with the students for 3 hours and it was a great experience for everyone. After school we returned to the Hotel Hidalgo and continued our cultural exploration through the city. During dinner we made plans for the weekend and for volunteering for the Saturday classes.

Another first for the program: We have been invited to have dinner in the homes of some of the students and professors! Several volunteers are very interested and excited about this opportunity.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Team arrives in Querétaro

As with any team that is new, there are stages that must be experienced: storming, forming, norming and performing. During the orientation session today our team was in the storming phase for sure. There was apparently different expectations for the university, Global Volunteers and the volunteers. Poor Carl was caught in the middle of making everyone satisfied--I´m sure he will prevail! In the end, we must remember we are here for the benefit of the students.

It´s an awesome experience we have to be invited into another country´s culture and I challenge us all to leave our own cultural experiences behind to fully engage in this gift. Through our team building exercises we have learned that we are a diverse, educated, spirited and opinionated group of people excited to mke a difference here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Our last day in Dolores. Up and packed and out to UTNG for a final, 8:00 a.m. class with Rosalie, helping her students practice their conversations for next week’s oral exam. This was a final reminder of how much fun it has been working with these young people.

Then a wonderful send-off ceremony, with speeches from the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and a couple of more advanced students, traditional songs, and a karaoke number in English. Our host at the pulqueria and his wife were also there, and it was wonderful to be able to thank them again for their hospitality. We were given certificates of appreciation and, in turn, thanked UTNG for letting us work with them and see what a wonderful future they are building for Mexico.

We then set off for Guanajuato. The mountain ride was as glorious as at our arrival, but now we recognized names and landmarks…our Mexico. We dropped our bags in our rooms and headed out for the city center. What an exciting city – bustling with energy on a Friday afternoon. We saw the Diego Rivera museum and the marvelous architecture and exhibits at the Alhondiga museum.

Also ran into Chuy on the street, on his way to class. Lunch outside in a shady square, a little shopping, and some people watching in the green Jardin Union. Our final dinner was at a window table overlooking all the activity in the square – mimes, costumed musicians, and hundreds of people out enjoying the evening. Back to our hotel for an early night since Evelyn and Mary have a 4:15 a.m. taxi to the airport. Joyce will enjoy a more leisurely departure on Saturday.

While we’re all looking forward to home, that Willy Nelson song comes to mind, “On the road again…just can’t wait to get on the road again…”

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Our last full day in Dolores. Joyce and Mary took a last walk around down town before breakfast, when the city is so cool an green.

After our morning meeting, we walked-up to the campus for the last time, since tomorrow we'll ride up with Carl. We had three classes , two with Chuy and one with Bill. Students are still hard-working and eager, but exam time is starting; and many of them are focussing on next week's finals.

Spent the break in the library and returned to the sac for conversation club only to find the room full of students taking exams. After waiting next door for some time we returned to the teachers' area where Marcia brought us one final student for conversation practice.

Back to the hotel with Carl where we'll have our final meeting and and head off to a party at Vero's. Tomorrow morning we have an 8am class with Rosalie, a good-bye ceremony, and then we're off to spend an afternoon and evening in Guanajuato prior to am Saturday flights back home.

So many final thoughts... but a short one: Truly it is in giving that we receive... and we all have all received so much from our volunteer experience in Dolores.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The last week is rapidly coming to an end and we are getting more used to the program and the lovely town of Dolores.

We had a late start for classes, 10:20 am, so we could enjoy some time in town. Got a ride to campus with Carl and had a great variety of classes again. Some are small and quick to speak English. Other classes may be large and are having English classes for the first time. But all of the students are receptive and seem to enjoy our presence.

We spend an hour at 4:00 pm in Conversation Club to help those who want extra time to practice. Have met some industrious kids.

We enjoyed a fabulous meal at the Plaza Restaurant and took a brief stroll around the park. Actually saw one of our students dancing in the band shell. His specialty was “break dancing.”

THOUGHT: No matter how thin the pancake, there´s always another side.

George Vecsey, NY Times sports writer

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Today was the first of three late-start days. Our first class only began at 10:20. This afforded Joyce a chance to roam around Dolores taking photos to preserve and reinforce her memories, and we all had a nice breakfast at the Plaza Restaurant.

We worked with Marcia for the first time today. Marcia is an expatriate American with a more direct teaching style than we have observed. The kids came to class on time! In her classes we prepared the students for an oral exam on describing other people. ¨Jeans” is a word they all know!

The Conversation Club had more advanced students today and was quite interesting. We could see how they are starting to grapple with the age-old conflict of remaining at home (Dolores, San Felipe, etc.) or moving away from family to pursue economic opportunity. They were smart and funny.

Our host at the hotel drove us out to the country to visit the 2nd oldest church in the Americas – a rare treat. This was followed by a barbecue in the hotel patio, hosted by Sr. Pompeio, which was an excellent conclusion to yet another fascinating day.

THOUGHT: An adventure is only an inconvenience right considered.

G.K. Chesterton

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hi ho! It’s back to work we go. After reviewing our first week on Sunday evening, we’re all committed to week two, but the alarms did seem to go off awfully early this morning. (The switch to daylight savings time didn’t help – it was dark outside.)

After a meeting with Carl, he drove us (what luxury) to campus and then headed back to Querétero.

We had our first class with Nathan and worked in groups on the concepts he provided us. Back in the teachers´area, Joyce dutifully transcribed the log, and we all waited for our first class with Veronica. Unfortunately, she was sick today, but Jaime eventually found us and took us to her class for a 15-minute session, which we hope was of some help to the students.

Next was JJ´s class, where he challenged us to create and deliver a lesson. After five minutes of brainstorming, we decided to use world maps and have the students plan a vacation – pricing tickets, packing, etc. It went quite well.

This was doubly fortunate because, after a quick snack chez UTNG, we had a second group of Veronica’s students to manage on our own. Although they were at a slightly different level from JJ´s, the lesson plan worked.

After a break, we met in the resource room with the Conversation Club. At first, there was only one participant, Gerald, an amazing UTNG graduate who had just returned from working in the US due to his father’s sudden death. His intelligence, focus, and drive were inspiring. Towards the end of the session, a couple of beginning students joined us, and we hope they come back to practice.

Dinner at El Caudillo – our waiter wanted to practice his English so ordering was a bit of a hodge-podge, but still a pleasant evening.

Heavy traffic around El Jardín -- watched an ambulance try to weave its way through, then home to the hotel.

THOUGHT: Ignatius Loyola’s “What profits a man if he gain’s the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul?” seems to speak to the Mexicans we’ve met who worked in the US but returned home.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Joyce and Evelyn: A day off to explore and enjoy. Joyce and Evelyn took the bus to San Miguel and had a wonderful adventure exploring the city with a personally guided walking tour. The guide spent two hours with them and impressed them with his love of San Miguel where he has always lived. They visited an art school where they viewed outstanding murals by Pedro Martinez. He was extremely knowledgeable about the history and architecture of San Miguel and taught them a lot.

But, of course, before they got serious about touring San Miguel they had to get their American coffee fix. Joyce had a cappuccino at Starbucks and Evelyn had her caffeine from Dunkin Donuts. Both shops are easy to spot right off the plaza.

The guide, Jesus, suggested a wonderful place for lunch and they were treated like royalty there. A gratis appetizer was offered and Evelyn enjoyed a healthy grilled vegetable salad while Joyce enjoyed delicious tacos.

They next found their way to the Ramirez Market and discovered the silver and other shops. Both made purchases of necklaces, earrings, and pendants and were very pleased with their decisions.

They just made the 4:00 pm bus back to Dolores – it was backing out of the parking place, but stopped for them. They enjoyed the milk stop run where workers were getting off and on.

Joyce and Evelyn shared their travels with Mary and met Carl at 7:00 to take him to the newly discovered restaurant, El Sabroso Pollo. He was impressed, but the crowd there was noisy and the echoes off the stone wall were loud. The upcoming week´s planning meeting was held back at the hotel and everyone looked forward to a good night’s sleep.


If you know all the answers, you haven’t asked all the questions.

Mary: Mary stayed in Dolores to explore the city and search out places of interest for sightseeing during the upcoming week. Among places of note were 1) churches – Our Lady of Sorrrows (Dolores) with amazing wood carvings and the Third Order Temple, where mass was being said, accompanied by guitars and singers and where the church was packed. Statues were covered in tiny Milagros. In both churches, posted in the back were marriage banns, complete with pictures and family histories. 2) Museums – Hidalgo’s house contained rooms furnished as they were in Father Hidalgo’s time, copies of letters and revolutionary documents, and the tithe hall filled with wreaths, plaques, and a large statue of Hidalgo. Independence Museum, in the former prison, contained wall sized drawings, statues, and exhibits explaining the struggle for Mexican independence. 3) Government buildings – The first floor of the Mayor’s Office and the Visitors House were open and both had interesting courtyards.

Best of all was sitting in El Jardín, listening to church bells, watching teenagers parade by, and eavesdropping on the shoeshine man.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

This was a school day in Dolores for public and college students. Walked to the campus and got there before anyone else. Our first class was with Karina -- who is also Nathan’s wife -- with students who come only on Friday evening and Saturday. They are older and not yet too swift in their skills. At one time we merged with another class and kept going for over an hour with 6 or 7 in a group.

Then the weekend began and we all did our own thing. Mary had her hair done, Joyce shopped for us and Evelyn stayed put, reading and resting.

Mary discovered a beautiful, newly opened restaurant that we decided to try, and it was wonderful. We will go back there for sure.


Amidst the mud and muck of things, something always, always sings.”

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch

Friday, April 4, 2008

Today was a day of much travel and disparate experiences. We had a leisurely start – an 8:30 breakfast to send Carl on his way home for the weekend, followed by an 11:00 rendez-vous with Chuy to visit a pulquería. Pulque, we learned from the patrón, is a lightly fermented and perhaps slightly alcoholic traditional beverage. We followed the patrón – we in Chuy’s car, he on his Italik motorbike – out to the fields where he collects agua miel (the liquid produced in the heart of the maguey cactus). Back at home, he strains the agua miel into a large olla (clay pot) where it ferments. The primary customers for the pulque are the workers in the surrounding fields.

We had time before our next obligation for ensalada de frutas and sopas in El Carruaje.

Capping a week of visits to satellite programs, we headed out to Ocampo at 4:00 with professor and program coordinator Jaime. The students there pack their studies into Friday evening and all day Saturday. Most work, many have families, and many must travel long distances into Ocampo from rural communities. They are VERY impressive! In Ocampo you may encounter “Los Locos,” a merry band of masked clowns who both startle and entertain!

A simple dinner of quesadillas, ranch steak, and rice and beans was just right. Jaime brought us home safely at ll:00 p.m.


The struggle of today is not altogether for today – it is for a vast future also.”

Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, April 3, 2008

New adventures – Joyce and Mary went out for breakfast breads and pastries and had an enjoyable walk around town in the cool morning air. Though, alas! They did find that overnight the sidewalk was torn up on the egret-free side of Guerrero.

We took Carl’s car (with Carl driving, of course) to campus to meet Jaime and Chuy for a visit to a talavera factory. Jaime took us to his uncle’s small factory where his uncle explained the steps in making thrown pieces and even made two small vases and a large bowl for us to see. Most of the work – beautiful in design – is sold to others who paint and finish the pieces. But he is working on some new clear glaze designs, improves his techniques through the local trade association, and has been to the US to discuss distribution. In sum, he is a sophisticated entrepreneur.

Jaime also took us to a factory and store where molded pottery is made and decorated. The owners have an amazing house with incredible tile work throughout.

We then dropped Chuy back at UTNG and headed off for San Miguel de Allende. Such traffic – we felt a bit like country mice sitting in miles of bumper to bumper traffic and streets without parking places. We had a quick, but delicious, lunch in a Sri Lankan restaurant and on leaving met the owner, who also teaches in the gastronomy department.

UTNG-San Miguel is only one year old, holds classes in a high school, and has programs in tourism and gastronomy. Like their fellow students at Victoria, these students had planned an afternoon of presentations for us. We heard speeches on Guanajuato and on dreams; we saw a mock interview and were asked to rate the candidates; participated in a blindfolded food tasting; and finished with costumed “Warriors of the Sun” dancers. Then the gastronomy students presented a sample of appetizers they had made. We spent the next hour munching and talking to individual students – many spoke quite good English and were quite confident in attempting to speak it. Although classes continue until 9:00 pm at UTNG/San Miguel, the English faculty left around 6:00 and so we headed home to Dolores.

Found a new restaurant just off the square: El Caudillo – great soups and shared a sizzling molcajete (lava stone mortar) filled with meat, cheese, nopales, onions and hot peppers.


. . . two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I

I took the one less travelled by

And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken”

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What a day! We have had so many wonderful experiences that we can hardly remember all of them. We did our usual walk to the campus to meet Francisco from the Victoria campus who drove us there in 1.5 hours. We all fell in love with the small campus of four buildings and were amazed at the stunning cacti.

Our time was spent listening to teams of 4-5 students give an oral PowerPoint presentation in English on a subject of their choice. Our job was to grade them on their team effort. We heard all 112 students that are enrolled at the Victoria campus. We also enjoyed a song by a group of six women students. The students were lovely, but shy and needed help with pronunciation.

Our host, Francisco, took us deeper into the rugged countryside to see some of the arts and crafts of the area. We met some ladies who did basket weaving and also showed us some unusual 800 year old cacti. We really got to see some gorgeous, dry landscapes. Had a swift ride home with an experienced driver and after a brief rest, enjoyed a light supper at one of our favourites – Plaza Restaurant.


Some minds are like concrete -- all mixed up and permanently set.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

So many experiences and people are packed into one day that it feels like at least two days ago we had breakfast at the Plaza Restaurant. Sadly, our much-anticipated coffee from freshly ground beans managed to taste just like Nescafé.

We set off on our now-familiar uphill trek to UTNG for a 9:00 am class with JJ’s students. Using a panel format, we faced 15 or 20 young students and asked them questions that flew around the room and remained largely unanswered. They appear to be quite naïve about the workforce. Things improved after that.

A session with Nathan on useful Spanish expressions was outstanding. Once again, Gaby’s lesson plan was easy and fun to implement. We all feel that our competence in this game is improving.

Evelyn stayed on campus and caught up with email while Carl, Mary, and Joyce went to the mercado for supplies. A ride into town with Gaby was welcome, and then we walked back to campus. (This day we walked up twice and down once.)

Our final experience was an external class including a father and his 10 year old son! The motivation of the external students makes working with them a joy.

Then back to town for a really nice dinner. Now that we have our act together, we´re taking it on the road . . . to Victoria tomorrow!


We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot “Four Quartets”

Monday, March 31, 2008

First day on the job! At our morning meeting Evelyn arrived with matching shoes, unlike, she claimed, on earlier occasions. After an orientation with Carl, and a fond farewell to his family, we walked with Chuy to a restaurant on the plaza to breakfast with several other members of the English faculty. Breakfast was followed by a short, but impressive orientation/overview of UTNG and the department’s expectations of us. We were driven to the campus, had a very brief tour and then, to our surprise, were honoured guests at a welcome ceremony held in the auditorium, including a speech by the rector. After visiting the English faculty offices and meeting additional faculty (a large department with several native English speakers), we set off to our first class.

What an experience! Thrown in cold with Lucio’s group of beginners; discussing workplace values and career plans with JJ´s last year (TOEFL-tested) young adults, then more beginners with Nathan’s class. After a 3:00 lunch break (nutrition not a curriculum at UTNG, unfortunately), and some time in the cyber-library, we had a final class with Gaby´s external students -– ranging from doctors to elementary school students –- where we worked on a “Jeopardy”-like game.

We´re beginning to see how what we´re doing fits in with the faculty vision for the English curriculum. We´re tired but excited.


A) St. Augustine: ¨”Love and do what you will.” B) Mother to child: “How do you know you’re dead? When you stop learning.”

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our family of seven enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet at the hotel and soon after we three volunteers left via the college van with Professor Jose de Jesus (Chuy) over the high mountains to our new home in Dolores Hidalgo. It was a very scenic ride over rugged hills. Our home for the next two weeks will be Posada Las Campanas with lovely rooms on the first floor and an adjoining patio where we had a very informative orientation meeting over a delicious luncheon.

When work was done we took a walk to the plaza (locally referred to as the garden –El Jardín) and enjoyed the famous Dolores ice cream. Toured the side streets where we bought the notebook in which we are recording our journal – now our blog. We kept on touring and drove 40 km to San Miguel de Allende to see that historic town and crowded plaza. Actually saw a bored young American couple sitting on a park bench using the computer! Had a soup and salad supper and soon headed for home. Has been a full day and we need our rest. Tomorrow we meet the kids in the classroom – can hardly wait!

THOUGHT: Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

MEXICO – Here we come (all 3 of us) from the East Coast (New Jersey), the West Coast (San Francisco), and the Southwest (Austin, Texas). Mary from Texas arrived early. Joyce came later on the same day, the 29th, and Evelyn came at 8:00 pm after flying all day. We gathered at our hotel and met our leader, Carl’s, family and enjoyed a good meal together. It was a long day for most of us so a retreat to our rooms was very welcome.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Team 96 returns from Mexico

Global Volunteers' team 96 to Mexico finished their 2 week stint on February 16th. The 10 member team supported the host organization's English program through small group conversation classes and individual tutoring sessions.

A total of 420 hours of volunteer time gave nearly 3,000 students an opportunity to listen and speak with true native speakers, and gain a better understanding of American and British cultures. Volunteers also came away with a better understanding of Mexican culture.

The team's journal is posted below. Please read about this great team's experiences as lived through their eyes.

Carl Granger
Mexico Country Manager

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Journal Entry #12 – Thursday, February 15, 2008

Morning comes early in the tropics – or maybe it just seems that way when you get up at 05:30. In spite of it all, we made it in time for our 07:00 class.

We got a break in the morning, though. The students were celebrating Valentine’s Day. They are not alone, the adult population here makes a lot more of Valentine’s than we do in the States. The students were wearing costumes – some quite ornate and the set up little ‘Tiendas’ selling impressive items like bolsas, stuffed hearts, and food. Which I passed up because of my Moc’s revenge. The celebration meant that we taught one fewer class that day – but we still remember the 05:30 start.

After dinner and a siesta, we went to Miguelito’s. A very nice restaurant in an old classical building.

We also invited Esperanza and Dahlia. A quartet of accordion, guitar, guitaron, and tom toms played traditional and current songs. Our end of the table helped them by singing. I was a very mellow feeling and I found it easy to say ‘yes’ to my playing the violin Friday 2/16.

We walked back to the Senorial close to midnight and went to sleep with the sounds of music in our heads.

Thought of the Day: Grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Journal Entry #11 – Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thought for the day:

The mind itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven. –Milton

Thoughts – There is nothing neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so. –Shakespeare

The only thing needed for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Journal Entry #10 – Wednesday, February 13, 2008

If you view courage as a destination, you then pursue life’s challenge with enthusiasm.
Quote by Bea

In the evening, sitting in the Plaza de la Corregidora sipping vino blanco was a pre-Valentines delight. Heart shaped balloons, huge decorated boxes filled with surprises, plus various other inflated shapes paraded by.

Tomorrow’s schedule at the university remains a mystery due to the festivities for Valentine’s Day by the students. Flexibility will remain our motto.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Journal Entry #9 – Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The dawn patrol assembled at 06:30 hours – 2 absentees were recovered in time for morning briefing. The “Intrepids” of earlier have morphed into “hardened campaigners” with stoic acceptance of caffeine deprivation and non-traditional catering. The team have now fully developed their individual strategies to augment and complement their sometime sketchy assigned projects and doing it extremely well. Medals may be awarded!!

Many of us have been struck by the rapid growth of the QRO economy and how the benefits are being put back into the city. (i.e. buying overhead wiring, repairing infrastructure etc.) There is a district sense of optimism which leads students to see their future here other than the US. Indeed only 2 of the very many students I have met, expressed any interest in going to the US: one wanted to be a film star in Hollywood and the a poker player in Las Vegas. Allowing that their aspirations may be ‘slightly’ ambitious, it is encouraging that so many, many, other nice young people are confident in the continued development of their home city.

After another day of tiring but rewarding support the team returned to Base Camp for lunch.

The fully rested and refreshed team, led by our Commanding Officer Carl, marched to be more accurate strolled in a distinctly unmilitary fashion) to two blocks for dinner at the Fin de Siglo restaurant. Minnesota Bill’s personal language trainer, Mauritzio, was not on duty but Lorenzo looked after us well.

Nice evening – Parade dismissed 20:15 hours.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Journal Entry #8 – Monday, February 11, 2008

First of all, I must admit it is going to be difficult to maintain the high level of creative and detailed journal entries written by previous Global Volunteers.

We began our day at 8:30 am with the traditional Hotel Senorial breakfast served by Jesus. We finished our breakfast, daily meeting, and waited for the UTEQ van to pick us up.

Right before boarding the UTEQ van, we experienced a small crisis. Bea’s hair stylist, Daniel, called Bea on her cell phone. From what I gathered, he was worried Bea did not schedule her traditional haircut appointment. Bea solved the small crisis and we boarded the van.

We arrived at UTEQ on time and our day began at 10 am. The next five classes went exceptionally well. The students seemed eager to learn English, were very interactive, and intelligent.

The teaching day ended at 3:00 pm and we ate our usual UTEQ cafeteria lunch. We discussed the day’s events and shared stories over lunch. I sat in the front seat with Marcos. I tried to speak my usual “pigeon” Spanish (this is the term Ernie calls it) with the driver.

We arrived at the hotel at 4:20 pm. Some of us ate dinner at the hotel and some did not. To quote Marilyn: “Where is the salsa dancing?”