Christine Ingham, left, and Juliana Ali, right, with Anayeli Dominguez at El Divino Niño Orphanage in Camp Campeche, Mexico. The Northumberland Regional High School students say the experience was life changing. SUBMITTED
Don’t blame Christine Ingham and Juliana Ali if they’re bundling a bit warmer this week.
The pair of Northumberland students spent the last two weeks in Camp Campeche, Mexico, as part of a group of 21 students sponsored by the Nova Scotia International Student Program. To qualify for the trip the girls had to write an essay.
While there the girls took part in leadership and Spanish classes, helped out at an orphanage and toured what they describe as some of the most beautiful places they’ve ever seen.
But it was the people in Mexico who made the biggest impact on them.
“There was one of the girls at the orphanage, she was 16 or 17, and she was really sweet and she asked all about us. She loves Canada and she really wants to come to Canada,” Ingham said. “It was just really great to get to know her and see the different way that she lives. She was so sweet. She gave us both big cards when we left.”
Ali said that one of her favourite parts was learning that you don’t need to speak the same language as someone to have a deep connection with them.
“At the orphanage, we laughed a lot because I couldn’t speak Spanish very well and they couldn’t speak English very well, but we still managed to have a good time.”
Ali is also thankful that they were able to get to do some sightseeing at a Mayan temple and some of the surrounding region.
“I really enjoyed the beauty of Mexico,” she said. “It was almost surreal.”
Camp Campeche isn’t a huge tourist destination so the people there were intrigued by their visitors.
“As soon as I said I was from Canada, they were like, ‘Oh, can I have a picture?’” Ali said.
Ingham said the different culture helped her learn a bit about herself.
“I like to have a very structured schedule and know exactly what I’m doing all the time,” she said. “Mexico in general is just very not structured.”
Everyone is late for things and their plans to work with the kids were often rearranged. But she was able to adapt and go with the flow.
“I actually learned I could enjoy the chaos,” she said.
She encourages anyone considering a trip like this to go for it.
“There were so many things that surprised me and things that I just would never have expected to learn about myself, I learned there.”
Ali adds, “This is the kind of learning you can’t get in a classroom. You need to experience it. It’s culture that you can’t get anywhere else.”
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