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by Caroline Johnson, student writer

 

1,100 miles south of San Diego, Calif. is Morelia, Michoacán. It’s a gem: Streets paved with cobblestones, ancient ornate cathedrals, and friendly people. The rustic appeal of old Mexico combines with a modern architecture, keeping alive the ancient village roots of this small, modern city. An area rich in history, Morelia provides both a glimpse into Mexico’s past and a peek into its future. And HPU’s Spanish students get to enjoy it while earning academic credit too!
“ There are some big, amazing museums,” said Patricia Meyers, a senior international relations major, “and even old ruins from the Aztecs, but also there was a drive-through Starbucks with valet parking. You really got a taste of Mexico, but at the same time a lot of the things in Morelia were familiar to us,” she added, referring to her summer adventure with a cohort of HPU students who study Spanish at Morelia’s Universidad Latina de America.
Serena Chan, a junior nursing student said: “Morelia is a beautiful city with lots to do and lots to see. It’s full of culture and friendly and interesting people.”
Students fly from Honolulu to Mexico City and then make the four-hour drive 300 miles north to what will be their new home for six weeks. They stay with Mexican families for the duration of their visit as this allows them a deeper understanding of, not only of the Spanish language, but also Mexican culture.
“ My favorite part of the whole trip was the family I stayed with,” said Raquel Hernandez, a sophomore multimedia major. “They really went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I made good friends with my host sisters too, and we still keep in touch.”
While pursuing their studies, students get to go on three field trips and can earn up to 12 credit hours. Classes offered include a variety of levels of Spanish, and even a culture and Mexican Identity class.
Though this is primarily an academic trip, it is truly a learning experience of life lessons. Whether it’s haggling at the local flea market, tasting authentic Mexican cuisine, or befriending the locals, students were able to try on a new culture for six weeks.
The field trips allow students hands-on experience of the rich history of the area. In addition to an opportunity to visit artisan pueblos and get a true feeling for the roots of contemporary Mexican crafts, the field trips involved climbing through the old Mayan and Aztec ruins, where history truly comes alive. The ancient Mayan city of Teotihuacan is in remarkably good shape, its temples and buildings surrounding a spacious plaza with a central platform, and its underground areas studded with tombs. From about 400-500 CE, at its height, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. With more than 100,000 citizens, it was one of the largest cities in the world at the time.
Each year the program is led by either the foreign language department chair Tess Lane or Assistant Professor of Spanish, Dr. Charles Boyer. The two usually alternate leading the trip, but Boyer, who led last year’s group, plans to lead the trip this summer as well.
Registration for new students is being held now. E-mail cboyer@campus.hpu.edu. for more info.

 
 

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