Keep Your Heart and Mind Wide Open

From the moment I decided to embark on this adventure, I knew this was going to be WAY outside my comfort zone. I have not traveled much in my life, my longest trip lasting only 14 days. From 14 days to leaving for an entire month was something I had never thought I was capable of, but I decided to take the risk. Since I had never done anything like this before, I had no idea what to expect.

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It was finals week, so all I did was study. Leaving for Mexico at the end of the week wasn’t even on my radar. After finishing my Investments final Thursday evening, I had anticipated an extreme panic to kick in because I wasn’t packed or ready to leave. Surprisingly, I was calm thinking about the 3 short days I had before boarding my flight.

This was the best thing that could have happened to me. Typically, when preparing for an adventure, I have a packing list and an itinerary planned for the length of the trip (I know, not very spontaneous). This was the type of traveling I was used to because this was how my family vacations were growing up. There was always a plan to avoid wasting any time or missing any key landmarks. With so little time to plan and prepare for this adventure, I boarded my flight to Bucerías, Mexico with my heart and mind wide open.

After arriving, this openness allowed me to immerse myself into the local culture without hesitation or fear. I started using the little Spanish I know to communicate and listen to the stories of people from the indigenous Mexican cultures (and of course with some additional help from Jazmin 😊). The biggest change I am still experiencing is acquiring the truth behind the history and way of life in Mexico that isn’t taught in the United States.

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I have only been in Mexico for a week and a half and have already learned more about Mexican culture and priorities than I have in my 22 years living in the United States. This is how I feel I can help address the needs of the local community. Many tourists that visit Puerto Vallarta and Bucerías never leave their resort!! I was very surprised by this and it’s because of false information obtained in the United States.

For the rest of my time in Mexico, I plan to learn as much about the cultural, prioritization, family, tourism, and historical differences too shed some light on the truths about traveling in Mexico. I have come across many people in the United States that hold true to incorrect information they have learned about the country and the cultures here. From this experience, I will be able to correct those incorrect assumptions and help educate people on the truths about Mexico.

Over the next week, I will be spending some personal time getting to know members of the local community. Stay tuned to hear about my experience, their stories, and the impact they have on social justice.

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Human Connections Internship in Bucerías, Mexico

After the past few months of preparation, learning about responsible tourism, and packing I am finally in Bucerías, Mexico. Through Northern Illinois University, I was given the opportunity to intern abroad in Mexico. This internship focuses on responsible tourism. Responsible tourism is tourism that minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts. generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities.

I have only been here for four days and this experience has already surpassed my expectations. Working with the local community and indigenous people has been such an eye opening experience that has really made me look at life in a new perspective. From going on a Human Connections day tour and meeting local families, to taking the bus up to Sayulita, and going on a boat tour of a local animal sanctuary called Estero El Salado.

I am looking forward to immersing myself into the local culture and gaining a new global perspective. In doing so, I hope to grow personally and professionally, become more adaptable, learn how to communicate across a language barrier, step out of my comfort zone, and learn to live in the now. Being someone who often gets wrapped up in the big picture, I hope to learn how to focus on the moment that is right in front of me and enjoy where I am at, rather than focusing on where I want to be.

Some additional goals I have for this experience are to practice and learn more Spanish, to be more open minded when it comes to people who have chosen a different path than me, to learn what goes into starting a social enterprise and the financial side of a social business, and to gain a real world perspective outside of the United States “bubble”.

I can’t wait to see what the next three weeks have in store!

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Jenée, Jazmin, Kyle, and I on our first night in Bucerías, Mexico