International Volunteer Program

Field Notes

My First Months in Mexico continued

by Laura Margowski

...has a lot of great traditions, lots of diversity in landscape, food and music; and the people here are very open minded and nice. They enjoy introducing you to their culture and their history with its festive days.

But now my first months from the beginning: After a 14 hour flight from Hamburg,Germany, I arrived exhausted but excited at the airport of Mexico City, where Carmen and Cecilia, our coordinators, waited for me and two other German volunteers.

During the 7 day orientation seminar, we stayed in Mexico City. There we visited museums and other beautiful buildings and got to know a lot about the Mexican history, which was very interesting. The entire week was great, although it did not feel real. Alone in a completely different country than Germany, I felt like I was dreaming.

After Mexico City, I went with Carmen and Cecilia to Amecameca and was introduced to my new host family with whom I would live for one year.

Amecameca is a city in the State of Mexico with a beautiful view of two volcanoes: Popocatepetl and Itzlazihuatl .It has 24000 inhabitants, a lot of bike taxis and no traffic lights at all.

Every Thursday and Sunday a great colorful market takes place in one street and on the market place are clowns doing a funny show, while people nearby sell candy, food and games.

My host family with two host brothers, one sister, two ducks and one dog is very nice. The parents sell tacos near the market place every day. Everybody welcomed me with open arms and asked me a lot about Germany, and about my family and friends and my hobbies. They are still helping me a lot with the Spanish language, telling me about their beautiful country; and Mexican legends.

My project is at the CAM Frida Khalo, a school for children with special needs. The first week I walked every day 20 minutes to get there and 20 to return to my new home, but luckily my coordinators got me a bike. Thanks to that I am much faster and can sleep a little longer!

Volunteer in classroom
From Monday to Friday I assist the teacher in preschool, where the youngest kids are educated. I really enjoy my work; we draw pictures, make handcrafts, sing songs and play games together. It is so much fun because the kids are also very motivated and always have a smile on their face.

The teachers and the head of the school, Prof. Juan are kind, open minded and interested Germany. They also have a lot of different ideas to entertain the kids and support their abilities.

There was for example one cleaning day, where every child brought a besom and we all together, teachers, pupils, parents but also neighbors cleaned the street in front of the school. Before this, one teacher held a speech with its class, about why it is so important to keep the streets clean and that every child has a responsibility of caring for the city and becoming a part of a healthier worlds.

Furthermore, every Tuesday is day of physical education, which means every pupil and teacher do their workout together in front of the school. Thursday, teachers offer different workshops, for example dancing, singing, mathematics or sewing.

My first party in Mexico was also in the school: The Bicentennial of the Independence Day. The whole school was decorated with flags and little figures and other thing in green white and read. There was a great party where, every pupil and teacher wore typical Mexican clothes, for example a big sombrero, colorful dresses and boots.

I myself wore a red dress and put flowers in my hair. A few pupils danced a traditional dance for the rest of the school and after this we sang the hymn of Mexico and the State of Mexico. In addition there was typical Mexican food like tortillas, tostadas, quesadillas; and also traditional music like banda or cumbia, where a lot of people danced to. I really enjoyed the fiesta Mexicana and I had very much fun watching my kids enjoying it too.

A day later, I went to Mexico City on the bus to celebrate the Independence Day with Sophie and Maggi, the other German volunteers; and Carmen, our coordinator. With her and part of her family we went in the evening to watch the “Grito de Dolores” in downtown in Mexico City.

German volunteers in Mexico

The streets were full with people, colorful lights everywhere and people who sold different things in tricolor. I could feel the excited and happy atmosphere and was excited to see what happens next.

Independence Day Celebration

After a great march of people dressed in different styles of Mexican clothes, dancing salsa or making gymnastics, we went to a concert of a famous music group. As they finished, everybody went to the big TV screens, which were placed all over downtown and we watched the President say his famous words: Viva la Independencia, Viva Mexico!

And everyone screamed: VIVA!

At the same time there where fireworks in the sky, underlining the great words. An exciting day which I definitely won’t forget!

On the next day we visited Teotihuacan, an archaeological zone with the third highest pyramid in the world. The pyramids  were great especially the pyramid of the sun and the one of the moon. These impressive buildings make you speechless when you are on top of them!

On our third day the girls and me met with Cecilia, our other coordinator, who grew up in Mexico City and knows a lot of beautiful spots there.  With her we went to St.Angel where every Saturday artists show their paintings all over the place-- in the streets and in the green parks.

Everywhere are small cafes and restaurants and also a handcraft market with clothes, bracelets and earrings  which none of us girls could resist. Everything in the place was colorful and bright and sunny, another wonderful day in the great great city.

The next day I went back to Ameca, where it is always a little cooler than in the rest of Mexico. I told my host family everything about my trip and they were happy that I enjoyed it so much. In Ameca there was also a great march of many schools where my (host) sister proudly told me that she was holding the bandera (flag).

The following days I was introduced to another part of my new family, an aunt who lives together with her husband, her children and her cousins--a big family with lots of children.

The house is near my school and often after school I visit the family and they tell me stories about Mexican history, and I learn how to cook typical Mexican food.

I also introduce them into the German tradition of Christmas. I really like staying there, because the family is so nice, they invite me to a lot of different festive days or to church and they treat me like a part of their family.

All in all I have to say that after two months of living here, I feel very good. Of course there are moments of homesickness, but then I go to my host family and talk to them and after this I feel a lot better.

Together we made new family traditions; every Sunday together to the market and buy food for our dinner, which I prepare with my host mum and sister. Often after dinner we also sit together for hours, talking about our day or our plans for the weekend, or we watch films or play games.

And after two months I can nearly say, that I feel like home.

The next festive day, for which everyone is preparing, will be Halloween and the Days of The Dead. I am really looking forward to seeing these days, because I have heard so much about the rituals and traditions. One thing is for sure--there will be rich food and a lot of music, like always here in Mexico!


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