1999 Impressions
Center for 4-H and Youth, Family and Adult Development

Images from the trip
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

Excerpted from a May 1999 press release issued about the trip: The students actually began preparing for the trip by writing essays to explain what they hoped to learn from the experience. Their essays reveal that each teen holds a variety of expectations.

A senior who plans to be a Spanish teacher captured many of their hopes when she wrote:

"I wish to participate in the program because it will undoubtedly give me a stronger grasp of the Spanish language, and because it will give me a deeper insight into the culture of the Mexican society. . . . While I appreciate the value of college classes in Spanish, I know there is no substitute for firsthand knowledge in the country where the language is dominant. By studying abroad in Mexico I can learn the 'little things' about the language and the people, and this will make the difference between my being an 'adequate' teacher and an 'outstanding' one."

Week 1: Greetings from Guanajuato, Mexico!

Click photo for larger image

Click photo for larger image

Greetings from Guanajuato, Mexico! We arrived here on Thursday, June 10, 1999, and have been on the go ever since. The photos you see are from a wonderful reception organized for our students and their host families by our Guanajuato coordinator, Maria Isabel Carranza. She spent a semester at West Virginia University in 1991 as a visiting professional with the West Virginia Council of International Programs (CIP).

After getting settled in and completing an orientation program, our 12 West Virginia high school students began Spanish classes on Monday in the University of Guanajuato Language Center. They take Spanish grammar and conversation classes and work at the language lab on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We began our community service projects on Tuesday in San Jose de Transito, a very low income community of 700 people, located a half an hour by bus from downtown (el centro) Guanajuato. We will go there each Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Today we worked with elementary school students, leading them in songs, games and sports. We also did a little gardening and repair work which included setting bricks in the ground around trees growing in front of the primary school and then painting the base of the trees with white paint made of a mixture of lime and water.

Life here for the group is invigorating and challenging. Many of the students are overcoming illness and homesickness as they forge ahead on their responsibilities. This is not an easy program, but our kids are demonstrating a lot of courage, resiliency, and commitment.

This weekend we will develop our first Los Escaladores material for the web site. We will have more photos and comments from all of our students. Mike Lustig from Charleston Catholic High School is our student editor.

This is an extraordinary experience. Stay tuned...

Hasta luego,
Rich Fleisher

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Last modified April 7, 2000
Comments to:rfleishe@wvu.edu

International Programs Center for 4-H and Youth, Family and Adult Development WVU Extension Service West Virginia University