Life after Guanajuato

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Life after Guanajuato

My experience on the service-learning trip to Guanajuato, Mexico was one where I connected information to experience to gain true wisdom and knowledge about the people, culture, and world view of Mexico. When I began the class portion of this experience, I was unsure of how the background information on the history of Mexico we were required to read would influence my service-learning experience in Guanajuato. What I expected of the trip was assisting in and teaching some English to a class of preschoolers-all other experiences would be extraneous and `touristy.' I poured over the readings and classroom information anyway, assuming that even if it would not be useful on this service-learning trip, it was interesting information that I could apply to my Spanish major. I quickly found out once in Guanajuato that the information learned in class would apply in nearly every way to my experience, and the synthesis of it with my experiences would change my opinion of the volunteer work I was doing, throw off my understanding of myself and my goals, make me reevaluate the motives of my future students and my country, and develop a greater understanding of the Mexican perspective.

I think the point at which everything I learned in the course previous to my time in Guanajuato formed from information into knowledge and paved that road for all the rest of my experiences there was during a meeting with some Mexican University of Guanajuato students. One student, who I later came to know as Adán, during our conversation asked our group why we study Spanish. After a few of us gave answers listing our hope to forge friendships with Mexican immigrants in the US or to be able travel in Latin and South America, we were blown away by the answer that Adán believed was the real reason in all of us-to come into their country to dominate and take over. First of all, this blew my mind! I had never thought of that as a motive for learning Spanish, but apparently this Mexican student believed it was Americans' number one reason! After first being appalled at his stereotypes of Americans, I realized that I wanted to uncover the reasons behind this strong and real belief and to change his mind about all Americans being this way.

A few of the girls in our group and I started a small conversation with Adán and two of his friends.
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