Trip to Mexico unforgettable

After a three-week study tour in Mexico earlier this year, four local Confederation College students are back home and sharing experiences about a trip that was one of the best times of their lives.
International Business students Lori Godin, Angela Halvorsen, Anita Barker, and Patti Jorgensen (along with Prof. Julie Dotson and five students from Thunder Bay) delved into Mexican culture for 22 days to help facilitate a marketing feasibility study.
That study revolved around the viability of selling a Canadian food product on the foreign market.
The trip provided what they had hoped it would–invaluable lessons on how culture, language, and economics play a part in that sell.
“It was excellent, fantastic. There’s no better way to learn,” Godin enthused last week. “We thought we’d studied [well] beforehand but it was nothing like the real thing.”
“The people and the culture were so interesting, so different,” echoed Halvorsen. “We learned things we never could have [otherwise].”
The trip included total immersion into the lifestyle and language of the Spanish civilization. The students were hosted by Mexican families in Cuernavaca, and regularly attended a Spanish language school to hone their speaking skills.
“It was rude to speak English in front of [our host families] and the teachers were not allowed to speak English [to us],” said Godin, who noted six months of Spanish lessons here were no comparison to being immersed in it.
Students visited the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City, attended financial and economic lectures, and took environmental tours of some of Cuernavaca’s poverty-stricken districts.
Assembly plants, a silver mine, schools, and a visit to Congress also were highlights of the trip.
“We learned about exporting to a target market, insurance, what bank to use, and the legal and environmental regulations,” said Halvorsen.
All four women expressed amazement at the economic diversity of Mexico, and noted how that would affect the potential success of a Canadian product there.
“It opened my eyes a great deal,” said Jorgensen. “There’s a huge difference in [standards of living].”
“We saw people that were so poor, some without eyes, begging for money in the streets, and close by were beautiful mansions . . . and [again] right outside the gate someone who had nothing,” she reflected.
“Poverty is overlooked there. The government doesn’t provide help,” she added.
The students also noted a highly-visible police force on the streets.
One of the most memorable highlights of the trip was a journey up a mountainside to a small school where the study group helped Mexican children with their studies.
Although poverty was starkly evident there, too, the atmosphere created by the children upon their arrival made it more bearable.
“To see [the poverty] was hard but the kids were so friendly,” said Barker.
“They thought we were the funniest thing they’d ever seen. It was the highlight of their day to see us,” agreed Jorgensen, noting the children were most intrigued by the visitors’ white skin.
The student study group also donated vitamins and clothing to the Mexican charity organization known as “Vamos,” which helps distribute needy items to children of poverty-stricken families.
Meanwhile, Godin reflected, with some humour, on a bit of Mexico she hopes never to have eye contact with again–scorpions. The host home where she and Jorgensen were staying ended up with a few of the nasty little critters bunking in as well.
“Patti noticed this thing on the wall in the bedroom so we got out our biological weapons– hair spray– and sprayed it. As soon as we did that, it curled its tail up and started coming down the wall,” recalled Godin.
“It’s now part of the tile.”
Local students who successfully complete the two-year International Business course in May through the campus here can begin a third and final year in September at Rainy River Community College in International Falls.