Program Leader: Dr. Mary Docter
Dr. Mary Docter, professor of Spanish and co-founder of WIM, will be leading Westmont in Mexico in 2013. She will be accompanied by her 12-year old daughter, Isabel, and Caitlin Henry, a 2011 Westmont in Mexico alum. Here are some things Dr. Docter would like to share with you:
I am delighted to be returning to Querétaro, one of my favorite cities in the world. My two semesters leading WIM (in 2004 and 2008) were easily the most enriching experiences of my teaching career. I loved spending time with students in such an amazing setting, living and learning alongside them as we all grew together.
I’m also looking forward to sharing with you one of my great loves: Mexico! I first fell in love with the country and its people when I was 19 years old. While attending UCLA I realized that although I enjoyed the Spanish language, I honestly could not speak or understand it very well at all. That was when I decided to take a risk and spend my junior year in Mexico City. It was easily the best decision I ever made.
That year abroad literally changed my life. I was forced to grow up fast, meet new people, experience a new culture, and open my mind to a whole new world, and I loved it! So much so, in fact, that upon graduation I returned to Mexico (with only $300 and a bus ticket, much to the dismay of my parents!) to teach in a bilingual elementary school. Now, of course, I have a career teaching the Spanish language and Hispanic literature and culture. I think how differently my life would have turned out if I had missed that opportunity to study abroad; I never would have discovered the wonder of Latin America, or my own special talents and gifts.
As leader of WIM, I want to help you discover for yourself the beauty of Mexico and its people. When we think of our neighbor to the south, oftentimes the first images that pop into our minds are of impoverished border towns, horrible drug violence, or perhaps a sunny beach with tourists sipping margaritas. My goal is to help you delve deeper and experience a more complex Mexico—a nation marked by diversity, shaped by those both within and beyond its borders, profoundly affected by the Roman Catholic Church, and blessed with a rich cultural heritage. I also pray that this experience will enrich you profoundly as you learn more about your neighbor, about yourself, and about God’s rich and wonderful love.