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Mexico: When Last Minute Decisions Become Lifelong Memories, by Victoria Herr, Agricultural and Extension Education major, INTAG minor

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Posted: May 31, 2017

I have always been the kind of person to jump at an opportunity, no matter how last minute or random, but out of all of my spur of the moment decisions, I think that going on this trip was the best I have ever made.
My cactus addiction was satisfied in Mexico!

My cactus addiction was satisfied in Mexico!

When I was asked via text if I wanted to go to Mexico over spring break, I think it is safe to say that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I have always been the kind of person to jump at an opportunity, no matter how last minute or random, but out of all of my spur of the moment decisions, I think that going on this trip was the best I have ever made. Our week in Guanajuato was absolutely full of learning and memory making and it is a trip that I will truly never forget.

While visiting with farmers, students, professors, business people, and more in Guanajuato I learned so much from them and their culture. There were many commonalities of the people in Guanajuato that I took note of and truly appreciated. One characteristic that I noted was their welcoming kindness and their excitement to meet Americans. Although I am aware that this is an attitude held fairly worldwide, it still always amazes me how much others care about the United States and our people. Throughout the week I felt welcomed everywhere we went and I found it very fun exchanging facts about our countries with the students from the University of Guanajuato. Similarly, I noticed that the people of Guanajuato were very loving toward one another. Coming from a society that seems to be moving further away from friendliness in general, it was refreshing to meet a group of people who care so much about one another. Whether it was the farmers of the cactus co-op, the owners of the broccoli ranch, or even the locals enjoying dinner along the streets, everyone we met in Guanajuato had a true compassion for everyone around them that was both inspiring and encouraging. Yet another inspiring characteristic that the people of Guanajuato shared was their incredible work ethics. Seeing how hard they all worked, seemingly for so little, really made me think more about how much I take for granted in my own life and quite honestly how lazy I am sometimes. Everyone we met had such a drive and commitment to not only put in the hours, but make them worth it. I have no doubt that the people of Guanajuato can be proud of their work each night when they go to sleep, I can only hope that the compensation they receive is enough to provide for them and their families. I am so thankful to have met all of the amazing people I did and I hope that I will be able to grow in my own characteristics of kindness, compassion, and work ethic.

Traveling is always a growing experience and I must say that our spring break trip was no exception. Although I have always been very flexible and ready to go with the flow, I would say that the hiccups of delayed flights and canceled tours helped me to realize that the only way to travel successfully is to travel flexibly. I think that this trip also taught me a lot about how to organize a well-rounded and enjoyable trip for a group. As a future agricultural educator I know that an understanding of the basics of traveling and organizing trips will be a very important skill and I hope to develop it more in the future. If ever given the chance to share my experiences of this trip with a future employer I would stress to them how studying abroad, even short term, can make such a difference in the learning of a student and how crucial I believe it is for every student to have at least one global experience. As far as my future goes, this trip definitely reinforced for me my interest in international agriculture and I hope to continue traveling and growing during my time at Penn State.

When it comes to decisions I am always at a loss so I really find it difficult to distinguish a favorite part of our trip to Guanajuato. Overall though, I would say that my favorite part of the trip was for me to realize just how strong Mexican agriculture is and how crucial their country is to ours. Before visiting Mexico, I admit that I truly overlooked the value of their country but after returning, I have a new found respect and appreciation for our neighbors!