Saturday, February 14, 2015

Growth through GO!

One of the greatest things about Fordham is the various opportunities students have to apply the knowledge and values they learn in the classroom and apply them to real world experiences.  One such opportunity is Global Outreach (or GO!), which sponsors domestic and international service and immersion projects over winter, spring, and summer breaks.  This past winter break, I participated in GO! Mexico, and spent 11 days in the town of Cholula, Mexico with 10 other students learning about the importance of sustainability in areas stricken by poverty.

A field of cacti in Cholula.  Popocatepetl, an active volcano, is in the background.
We were hosted by Community Links International, a non-profit organization that works to educate communities across Latin America how to incorporate sustainability into their lives.  In Cholula, we learned that water is expensive and in short supply, so Community Links is building a community center that will incorporate techniques for conserving water and capturing rainfall.  For example, the land that they are building on is slightly sloped, so they have strategically planned the crops that they will grow to efficiently irrigate the plants as water runs from the high point to the low.

This retaining wall will prevent erosion, which can occur during the rainy season.
Although helping to build the community center was hard work, we had a lot of fun too! One of the goals of Global Outreach is building community, both with our fellow students and with the people in Cholula, and one of the ways we did this was by playing soccer - lots of soccer.  

One of the most memorable experiences was playing soccer with several local families on a Saturday afternoon.  Members of the community - young and old, parents and kids, men and women - joined in the fun.  Although I don't speak Spanish and most of them didn't speak English, playing alongside one another was a very rewarding way to interact and bond.  Participating in GO! Mexico was a unique way to extend learning beyond the classroom, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.

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