Thursday, July 11, 2019

Week 6: ¡Adiós!

¡Hola a todxs!

We hope you're having a good week! It's hard to believe that we come back tomorrow!! We can't wait to see you all in Chicago! Today was our last week on site. The students took it really well, but it obviously hit them post-Campeche that this was it! In support and success groups, we worked on preparing for re-entry--what to expect and how to deal with it. We expect the students to have signs of reverse culture shock. They might seem frustrated, melancholic, listless, or a little too excited to be back. All of that is perfectly normal post-program. Here are some articles that might give you some hints on dealing with the aftershock:

Reverse Culture Shock: 10 ways parents can help

What your child wants you to know about reverse culture shock

On Monday, we did an administrative wrap up. We finished out the program magazine that the students were working on all summer, and they had a chance to write individual thank you cards to their host mothers, which were distributed to them during the farewell show on Wednesday.

Hard at work trying to put into words this wonderful experience.

The rest of the week (Monday afternoon through Wednesday) was spent rehearsing rehearsing rehearsing. In theatre class with Daniel, that meant performing the play and the sketches over and over, working on tone, volume, and keeping our backs away from the audience, as well as arts and crafts to make the prompts we needed for our (minimalist) theatrical production.

Prop making. Aaron is supervising.

The Mayas: Cecilia (the witch), Ariel (the princess), and Malachi (The king) 
The Spanish: Spencer (Fray Franscisco), Emma (Fray Diego de Landa) and Aaron (The executioner)

Two cultures meeting.  Spoiler: It doesn't end well.

In Choir class with Odalys, that meant polishing off the dances and practicing practicing practicing!

Practing the trova yucateco, Esta tarde vi llover
Behind the scenes: Puebla, correographed by Olivia, Claire, and Devin.

Behind the scenes: Quimbara, correographed by Jaigh, Ainsley and Niara

Behind the scenes: Robarte un beso, correographed by Piper, Kaleigh, Katie, and Cassidy.

The farewell show was a big success! The students worked hard all summer and it really showed!
The farewell show, in all it's glory, is below in three parts. We apologize for the shaking--Daniel made a tripod out of a paper cup that would have been amazing, except there was no way to put it so that it captured the whole stage, so he recorded it on his phone standing against the wall, which is more of a workout than one would think.

And finally, to end the blog, we thought it would be fun to re-present the students and their host families. In the first entry from Mérida we included the pictures we took the first week, and here they are again at the end. We don't know how she did it, but Diana always manages to match her host moms with the perfect students, and we are so grateful.
Doña Rebeca, with Emma and Kaleigh

Doña Magda, with Ceci and Oli

Doña Fabiola with Aaron (actually smiling!)

Doña Blanca with Ainsley and Katie!

Doña Leonor and Niara (feat. Samantha, Leonor's granddaughter!)

Doña Angélica with Malachi and Spencer

Doña Amira, with Piper and Claire (those are happy tears, we promise)

Doña Irene, with Cassidy and Jaigh 

Doña Diana, with Devin and Ariel

Insructor team with Tania, Diana's assistant!

Instructo team with Diana, our amazing Onsite Coordinator!

Thursday morning, we had a very abbreviated day to give them more time to enjoy their last day in Mérida. We started with the Spanish exam we gave them at the beginning of the summer (they'll recieve these scores in their final evaluations along with comments on their participation), which they breezed through, and then we had a quick overview of our day tomorrow, along with last minute reminders and rules.

Even during an exam, Olivia's ready for a photo!
To round out the summer, we took a surprise excursion to a local ice cream shop before turning them loose to enjoy their last 12 hours or so in Mérida.
It was... a long, hot walk.

"You're buying us what??"

Katie, Ariel, Cassidy, Aaron, Spencer, and Jaigh

Claire, Devin, Olivia and Kaleigh

Niara, Ainsley, Emma, Malachi, Ceci and Piper

With this post, our summer in Mérida is over!! We can't believe it!! Tomorrow we leave Mérida at 6am (the grumbling has already begun), and we'll be in Chicago around 2pm. It will probably take us a bit to get everyone through customs and security, so please be patient with us! We look forwarding to seeing you all there! Once again, a heartfelt thanks from the instructor team for sending your students with us this summer! We truly had such a great time! It's so hard to put into words what the student groups mean to us, and even harder with such a truly outstanding group of students. It was such a pleasure getting to know this bunch and seeing how far they progressed.

The last team photo

Actually, the last team foto.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Week 5: Campeche

¡Hola a todxs!

We hope you had a good Fourth of July! It's been another great week on site (and our last full week in México! Can you believe it?). In less than a week we'll be back in the states! This summer has truly flown by, the instructor team just cannot believe it.

Last weekend, the students were scheduled to go to the beach. Usually this means heading to the beach for a few hours, lunch in a restaurant, and then coming home. This year, however, the host mothers truly outdid themselves. They managed to find a beach house two blocks from the beach, and organized everyone to spend the entire day.

Pool time! Not sure why they spent so much time in the pool if they were literal blocks from the beach, but who are we to judge?

Malachi, Katie, Aaron, Ariel and Cassidy!
Jaigh, Olivia, Emma, Spencer, Kaleigh, and Devin!

Niara, Piper, Emma, Ainsley, and Ceci!

Lunch time!

Doña Rebeca, definitely teaching the kids the right way to do something.

The wonderful host moms who made it all possible! 

This week on site was our last week, so we were focused on winding down the classes, and prepping for the end of the program (unfortunately we can't tell the students we're doing that or they get really sad and start shouting "No!" over and over).

Daniel dedicated his classes to preparing for the magazine (technically magazines fall under the umbrella of "literature" if we define it broadly enough, right?). The magazine is sort of a yearbook-type momento. It contains pictures from the summer, short articles about the different things we did and tried, and a bunch of pages the students draw that make absolutely no sense outside to anyone outside of the group (or the instructors).

We've also been hard at work on the farewell show--it is Wednesday and the students are almost ready. No spoilers, though!
Working hard on learning a new dance.

Blocking out the stage directions for Un choque de dos culturas.
On Thursday, we had such a busy day! It was the Fourth of July, and Diana's team prepared a very American lunch--hotdogs and chips. The students were so excited for this, and we just didn't get it. Hotdogs are good, but we're in Mexico and every last one of our host mothers is an amazing cook!! Anyway. During the party, we also played a few games--the first one was to name all of the states and their capitals. 

The winners! With 81/100!!
Second place, with 78/100!
Third place, with 74/100!
Fourth place, with 51/100!
Fifth place, with a sheet we couldn't read most of!

Behind the scenes. 
Nailed it!

The second game was to write out the lyrics of the national anthem from memory (with instrumental music to help) in English, and then translate it to Spanish. We bring you the finished products--enjoy!

Happy Fourth of July!
Also on Thursday, we had our cooking class. Somehow, Diana knows a professional chef who has, quite literally, published the book on Yucatecan cuisine. Chef Will Rodríguez grew up in Mérida, lived in Ciudad de México for while, and then returned. He now does a little bit of everything--in the past he's recieved students for the program, he works as a teacher, writer, editor--including organizing classes in his house! The menu was relatively simple--tostadas with roasted squash (calabacitas) and lomito de valladolid (a marinated pork dish), and a desert of lime-flaved crackers, guayaba, and shredded cheese.
The front door.
Waiting for instructions.
We took a picture of Team Postre but Daniel lost it so here's a video instead. :) 

Team Frijol

Team Calabazitas

Team Carne
The most crucial step--reading the instructions to promptly ignore them and forget what the steps are.

Bonding over peeling hard boiled eggs.

Team Frijol, getting ready to sautee some onions.

Piper (team Carne) and Ariel (team Calabazitas), sharing the stove

Frijol is coming along great!

Working through the recipe.

Niara and Aaron, trying to figure out the right amount of spices.

Equpo Postre, almost done! 
These deserts were so simpe but SO GOOD.

Equipo Carne, carefully dicing eggs.

Devin, taking her trun stirring. 

Frying up the onions, tomato, and peppers for the calabazitas.

Carefully combining ingredients!

Kaleigh showing Ariel how to stir evenly,

Ariel taking her turn--she did not want to, but she did a great job!

Behind the scenes, there was also a lot of chatting.

Trino, Will's dog, got a lot of love.
If you look closley you can feel Daniel's stress watching the students that close to fire.

Waiting for everything to come together!

Is now really the time?

Fine. One photo.
The assembly station. Tostada, Frijol, Carne, Calabacitas, Cheese, Habanero Sauce for the brave.

The finished product! (Daniel is not one of the brave).

On Friday, we had our last excursion. We couldn't believe it!! It's a good feeling (this summer has flown by and everyone has had a fantastic time), but its also sad! The itinerary was jam packed, with lots of bus time, as it was the only excursion that took us to nearby Campeche, located in the state of Campeche, which is just to the southwest of the Yucatán. Our first stop was Becal, a small village on the boarder between Campeche and the Yucatán, which is famous for its hat weaving. Usually these are family businesses which are inherited by the children. The plants have to be carefully processed before they can be used, including cutting them into the appropriate thickness, dried, and dyed. Afterwards, they're always woven in underground caves. The caves are cooler and more humid than the surface.

Getting ready! Emma is apparently an expert braider.

In Becal. Devin is hiding, but she's there!

Caugh mid-yawn! Excursions leave at 8am, so students are usually still pretty sleepy the first hour or two into it.
Learning about the different technices to preapre the plants.

In the cave for a demonstration! No hiding now, Devin!

We all left covered in mud. :)

Ready for revenge photos.

Malachi started trying to escape from picture time.

There is no escape.

Afterwards, shopping wares.

After Becal, we headed to the archelogical site, Ednzá, our last visit to Mayan Ruins! Ednzá is rather small (it took the students about 30 minutes to explore it all). The smaller sites tend to be more fun--there's more to climb and some of the views are amazing. Unfortunately, Ednzá also has the fame of having the most aggresive mosquitos :). 

The map of Ednzá in the entrance. Like we said, pretty small.

The road in. Not pictured: almost every single student tripping over the rocks.

The main pyramid, with five levels!

Spencer, Malachi, and Aaron, off to climb... pretty much everything they can.

Niara, Ainsley, Emma, Piper, and Ceci, taking it a little slower.

Devin, Emma, Olivia, and Jaigh are also climbers.
"Do you think we can fit in that tunnel?" Feat Airel, Cassidy, Kaleigh and Katie.

"We'll take a photo but we're not climbing all the stairs to the main pyramid."
After Ednzá, we went to visit the town of Campeche, with two main stops. The first was the Fort of San José, a small fort overlooking the sea. Campeche was one of two majors ports in the Yucatán, and a key target for pirates. Nowadays, its got great sea-views and a cool museum about ocean archeaology (which apparently doesn't have a "Q" in it in English). Afterwards, we went to the main square for about an hour so the students could explore the city.

The entrance to the fort.

Look at that view! Not featured: The view.

This yellow is so pretty!

Ainsley and Niara in the musuem. 
Piper, Kaleigh, Ceci, and Emma

Jaigh, Aaron, Cassidy, and Katie.

Spencer, Emma, Devinn, Kaleigh and Olivia.

Malachi, once again there's no escape from picture time.

Group picture infront of the Campeche Cathedral (which is actually a church because there's no bishop).

Odalys, what are you doing? Do you need help?

IUHPFL Mérida does Campeche!
We got back to Mérida around 6pm and the students were exhausted! This weekend they have unstructured time with their families--some are heading to the beach, some are heading back to Mérida en domingo, some still hadn't decided. We left the last weekend open for the host mom's to pick what activities their students liked the most. This upcoming week will be focused exclusively on the farewell show and winding down the administrative part of the program. The last blog post should be coming on Thursday evening, right before we leave Mérida! We're looking forward to seeing you all in Chicago next Friday!

Week 6: ¡Adiós!

¡Hola a todxs! We hope you're having a good week! It's hard to believe that we come back tomorrow !! We can't wait to see yo...