Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Day in Queretaro by 2011 Volunteer Mary

We got up early this morning for a quiet, do-it-yorself breakfast and walked to our bus pick-up point. It was still dark when we left the hotel; the morning air felt cool and refreshing. All was quiet on the street and the Jardín, which had been crowded with people the night before. There had been a band playing, people dancing and enjoying the music, children playing and families enjoying a walk and ice cream on a warm Sunday evening.

I had four classes today. The students were well prepared, attentive, and eager to learn and improve their English speaking skills. Between classes in the cafeteria area I had several enjoyable conversations with students, as did the other volunteers.

At 1:00 p.m. it was off to lunch at the nearby restaurant before the journey back to the Hotel Hidalgo. We arrived warm from the now hot (25° C) midafternoon sun and tired from our work. Many volunteers, myself included, took a bit of time for a siesta, Others bought more food and supplies to keep us all fed and energized.

At 6:15 we had a team meeting, read the journal and inspirational daily thought. Discussion centered on a farewell party hosted by the volunteers for the UTEQ faculty on Thursday. The planning committee has great ideas for food and musical entertainment. First rehearsal Tuesday. After that a pizza and beverage party was enjoyed by all, along with good conversation before ending another day in Querétaro.

Thought for the day:

Tell me and I will forget,
Show me and I may remember,
Involve me and I will understand.
~ Chinese proverb

Shared by Volunteer Mary D.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo — or the fifth of May — commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.

Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.

~ Information courtesy of History.com

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Children's Day, April 30th!!

This coming Saturday, April 30th is Children's Day in Mexico! It is also known as "El Día Del Niño". And in some schools they give the day free or let the kids wear shorts and a colored shirt.

We wish all our host partners, friends and children of Mexico a very happy Children's Day and we look forward to serving your communities again this June, July and October. If you might be interested in joining us this summer or fall, don't hesitate to contact us today!

Remaining 2011 Service Program Dates:
June 4 - June 18
June 18 - July 2
October 15 - October 29

Friday, April 22, 2011

Update on Safety in Mexico

In recent months, certain areas of Mexico have been subject to increased levels of violence leading the U.S. to issue travel warnings for a few states in the nation of Mexico. Our website currently states that the states where our service programs are located are not included in the travel warning - which is still true. We hope this post will serve as a reminder to those considering a program in Mexico this year or in 2012, and we would also like to share some "common sense" tips shared by the Dept. of State today.

Below is a portion of the updated travel & safety information issued today, regarding Mexico:

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day for study, tourism or business and at least one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes. Nevertheless, crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.

It is imperative that you understand the risks involved in travel to Mexico and how best to avoid dangerous situations. Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Former Volunteer Posts AMAZING YouTube Videos!!

We at Global Volunteers are privileged to work with so many wonderful volunteers, partners, and supporters each and every day.

Last week, one particular volunteer, Graham, truly knocked our socks off when he shared a 9-part video series he had created about Global Volunteers and posted on YouTube!! These videos feature the travels and experiences of numerous Global Volunteers (particularly one tight-knit group from New Jersey) and we welcome you to take a look at these exceptional videos by using the link below.

Thank you, Graham!! And for the rest of you... ENJOY!!

Global Volunteer Retrospective Video (End): http://www.youtube.com/user/endlessmug#p/u/53/1YT9erIK0k4

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pictures from Queretaro with Love!

Many thanks to Volunteer Team Leader Pam Cromer for sharing these great photos with us!! We've had a large team of successful volunteers working with students in Queretaro this February!

If you might be interested in volunteering in Mexico later this year, the following are our 2011 Mexico Service Program Dates, and please note that you can volunteer for a one or two week period (we simply ask that you begin on the set start date):

June 4 - June 18 (Dolores Hidalgo)
June 18 - July 2 (Queretaro)
October 15 - October 29 (Dolores Hidalgo)

We look forward to hearing from you soon!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Learn about... Queretaro!!!

I thought you might enjoy these words from a team leader to Mexico! Queretaro is one of Global Volunteers' two host communities in Mexico. We currently have four volunteer teams scheduled for 2011, with two of the four headed for Queretaro. Please let us know if you would be interested in learning more about these wonderful teaching service opportunities!

QUERETARO, MEXICO: The glorious past – The dynamic present!

Written by: Francoise, Global Volunteer Team Leader

When I agreed to lead a team of volunteers to Queretaro, Mexico, I had already traveled extensively to more “exotic” sites south of our border, mostly in Central and South America, and I relied on memories of an earlier trip to Mexico - many years before…. This recent service program experience in Mexico gave me the opportunity to re-connect and fall in love with a country that is so close to us, yet so full of surprises and riches!

Queretaro: a fascinating city of contrasts whose quaint “heart” pulses with the memories of an illustrious past still lingering in the many gorgeous colonial buildings of its historic center. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (neighboring San Miguel de Allende is a Mexican national monument) and many defining moments of Mexico’s history come to life in Queretaro’s restored mansions, monuments, and public landmarks. One can discover them along the pedestrian walkways or around the several squares adorned with fountains, statues, and carpets of flowers. From our hotel, located right across the street from the City Museum, we were able to safely explore this compact historic center, visit many of the churches, several museums, markets, while mingling with friendly families as they enjoyed the beauty and liveliness of their public places. But Queretaro – which I found very few Americans have ever heard of! - is also a fast growing, dynamic, and sophisticated metropolis of 1.5 million habitants that boasts a new international airport and hundreds of U.S., Canadian, and European companies with modern facilities that stretch into the mountainous Heartland.

Since 1988, Global Volunteers has been teaching conversational English at UTEQ (Universidad Technologica de Queretaro), and our host there is well organized, appreciative of the volunteers’ contribution, and intent on facilitating better communications and understanding between our two cultures. English as a second language is an important subject at the University, and students who become bilingual speakers will find better jobs. Our students appreciated the opportunity, the only one they have during their time of study there, to practice the language with native speakers. Depending on their level we were able to engage in interesting conversations which turned out to be quite an eye-opener to us. Most of the recent polemic we have been exposed to at home about Mexican/US relations, has focused on poor Mexicans desperate to make it across our borders or hiding from the authorities, and how to deal with this problem. Yet, the students we interacted with (and we were told that the majority came from very poor families) were quite confident in the future of their own country and their own contribution to it. When asked where they would like to travel to, they spoke of exotic places such as Egypt… not Texas or Southern California… Most of them felt confident that they would find employment in this rapidly growing area.

In Queretaro, the contrast between the pride of the past and the pull of the future is everywhere present, yet the Mexicans we interacted with seemed to have found a comfortable balance. We definitively felt a strong sense of responsibility to the family and a commitment for the young to help their elders. Catholicism is a grounding religion for most, and the town’s beautiful churches are often filled with worshippers, yet there are many very progressive social initiatives that “push the envelope.” We saw plays and dance performances sponsored by the city or state that were quite “unorthodox” and experimental, and exhibits that would have been censored in a City Museum here. We were impressed by the sophistication of Queretaro’s cultural scene, the variety of venues that offered high quality events – many free of charge! Our team took great advantage of this. On a typical day, after the afternoon rest following our teaching schedule, when not eating at our hotel, we enjoyed delicious Mexican cuisine at a new restaurant, then attended a show or a concert at a nearby venue. We also could choose to watch a group of young people working on a spontaneous mural or make music, as part of a preventive state-sponsored program for “youth at risk” Or we could join local people in the main square (we especially loved the children in their pretty clothes) to enjoy Latin music, and watch elegant couples perform the traditional “Danzon.” Most of the time we were the only non-Mexicans in the crowd, but everyone was gracious and welcoming.

Hasta Luego!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Volunteer in Mexico & take in some Cultural Events!!

If you've been thinking about volunteering in 2011, consider joining us during or near the time of a cultural celebration!! Check out the list below to find out when our friends in Mexico take time to throw a fiesta :)

**2011 Holidays**

Año Nuevo
New Year’s Day – First day of the year.
Saturday, 1 January 2011

Día de la Constitución
Constitution day – Celebrates the Promulgation of the 1857 and 1917 Constitutions. Observance: First Monday of February.
Monday, 7 February 2011

Natalicio de Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez’s birthday – Commemorates President Benito Juárez’s birthday on March 21, 1806. Observance: Third Monday of March
Monday, 21 March 2011

Día del Trabajo
Labor day – Commemorates the Mexican workers’ union movements.
Sunday, 1 May 2011

Cinco de Mayo
Fifth of May – Celebrates the victory of the Mexican Army, led by Gral. Ignacio Zaragoza against French forces in the city of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. Also widely celebrated in the United States. US “celebration” of this Mexican historical event is largely a result of promotions in the US by liquor, beer, and bars/taverns/clubs/restaurants since the 1980s. For many years Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the US promoted Cinco de Mayo as Mexican Independence Day which is actually September 16. Although Mexican citizens feel very proud of the meaning of Cinco de Mayo, it is not a national holiday in Mexico, but it is an official holiday in the State of Puebla where the mentioned battle took place.
Thursday, 5 May 2011

Día de Independencia
Independence Day – Commemorates the start of the Independence War by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810.
Friday, 16 September 2011

Día de la Revolución
Revolution day – Commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution by Francisco I. Madero in 1910. Observance: Third Monday of November.
Monday, 21 November 2011

Christmas – Christmas celebration; secular and religious holiday.
Sunday, 25 December 2011