No. 3: September in Querétaro

September 28, 2015. Querétaro

Group at soccer game

Our first month in Mexico has been busy indeed! All of the students have settled nicely into their homes and the classes are in full swing. In the morning, students typically either take the bus or walk to the university (the ITQ) for their courses in Mexican history, culture, and Spanish language, composition and conversation. Following class, they all head home to share a comida—the main meal of the day in Mexico, usually served around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m.—with their families.

Blake making his maskFollowing this special time with family, students head out again to the centro (the historic city center) for their afternoon and evening classes at the CIQ (Centro Intercultural de Querétaro). On Mondays and Wednesdays, they study and engage in Mexican Art (their latest project was to make a mask!); on Tuesdays they build up a sweat doing Latin Dance; and on Thursdays the advanced students have a seminar in Mexican literature. After class, students might enjoy tacos at a local hangout, sit in a coffee shop to study or visit, take in a cultural event in one of the many plazas, or, occasionally, even walk home to get a good night’s sleep.

Outside of class, students have enjoyed opera, plays, museums and concerts in the park. A city rich in cultural heritage, there is always something to do in Querétaro! The group also participated in the annual welcome party hosted by the ITQ and attended their first professional soccer game. Although the Gallos lost, we all had a great time cheering on the local team. All continue to honor their “Language Pledge”—to speak only Spanish with each other—and many have already made Mexican friends at the university or through their church here in Querétaro.

Emily tutoring EnglishAmanda S. at Gigi's PlayhouseStudents also have opportunities to give back to their community. On Fridays, they participate in language workshops, where they converse with and tutor Mexican ITQ students in English. Additionally, Daniel teaches a class in Korean for forty students, and Kaho tutors Japanese at the university! Two kinesiology students, Melissa and Amanda S., are also engaged on Saturday mornings at Gigi’s Playhouse, where they work with babies with Down Syndrome, helping to stimulate motor skills through movement and music.

Conchero dancerSeptember has certainly been a month of parties! Abby, Melissa, Laura and Katie R. all celebrated birthdays here, Mexican style! We also experienced the huge Festival de la Santa Cruz, in which in which hundreds of conchero dancers from various parts of the country convene in Querétaro to perform prehispanic, religious dances and to make offerings at the Temple of the Holy Cross (Templo de la Cruz). Some of us were fortunate enough to witness the inaugural events at the temple, including the procession and offering of the pajareros (bird breeders). The following day, we experienced Mexican Independence Day, including the famous “Grito” (¡Viva México!) from the governor’s balcony that night.

With all the activity each and every day, a highlight for many of the students is to come together at the end of the week for Vespers on Sunday evenings. There, we sing, hear the Word, learn about spiritual disciplines and have an opportunity to share and pray for one another. To see more photos and experience our daily life, click on the slideshow below: