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International Emerging Leaders Program

at Collegiate School

Castillo de Chapultepec

During our last full day in Mexico City, we had the chance to visit and tour the Chapultepec Castle, which used to be

the home of the royal family but is now a famous museum.

Each room is filled with paintings, costumes, and various items to help tell the story of Mexico’s history. Many of the paintings are of significant battles and the museum also houses the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire, the document that declared Mexico’s independence from Spain.

It was interesting to be able to see objects and documents that are so significant to Mexico. Outside of the castle, there were beautiful gardens with views of the city where many of the students had the opportunity to take pictures. The castle was a beautiful place to tour as one large group for the last time before heading to Carol Baur and eventually parting ways.

– Laney R.

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The Folkloric Ballet

The Folkloric Ballet was a beautiful representation of Mexican culture. There were multiple different dances and costumes which were each from a different region of Mexico. In addition to the dances there was also a Mariachi band that provided all the music for the performance. Some of my favorite dances included one where the male dancers were pretending to be old men, one where a dancer was using a lasso, and on where they were doing a traditional Aztec dance. – Ashley E.

Exploring Historic Mexico City

Goodbyes are Hardly Ever Final

Each time students participate in international conferences, friendships are made that they hope to last a lifetime. However, the distance between their homes often creates a challenge.

For example, in the fall I participated in the International Emerging Leaders Conference at Collegiate where I created friendships with students from all over the world. At the end of the week, the heartache set in as I said my goodbyes, and I hoped to cross paths with all of the delegates again. A couple of weeks after the conference, the group messages slowed down and it was only on certain occasions when I would reconnect with the students I once felt so close to. However, when I found out that I was able to participate in the International Emerging Leaders: Americas conference, I knew I would once again be able to connect with some of these students.

My first experience with this was when I found out my host for the nights in Querétaro. I was lucky enough to get to stay with Paola who stayed with my family when she came to Richmond in 8th grade. The next experience was on the first day in Mexico when I was able to meet up with three students from the Carol Baur School who came to Collegiate for IELC this fall. We had the chance to catch up on each other’s lives and remember the fun times we shared in Richmond. I also met delegates from Italy and South Africa who were close friends with members of my small group from IELC. We bonded over the shared friendships, and I got to reconnect with the students I befriended in the fall.

As the other students from Collegiate and I can agree, our experiences in Mexico are ones that we will never forget. But in addition to cultural emersion and international affairs, I realized that goodbyes are hardly ever final. With the global focus that Collegiate shares with so many partner schools, it is not uncommon to reconnect the friendships that were once made. There have been countless stories of Collegiate Alumni meeting up with international friends later on in life, and I hope to have many more experiences similar to my trip to Mexico. – Annie R.

A Herculean Effort

On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to visit the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacán. Only when we arrived did I realize the magnitude of the structures at the site and the effort that went into constructing them. Apparently it took 100-150 years for the Aztecs to complete the structures at Teotihuacán, and the pyramids of the moon and sun were obviously the most difficult. Even given this incredibly long time in terms of construction, I was amazed by the perfect symmetry and detail in every inch of the architecture at Teotihuacán. The Aztecs, who had no modern tools, measuring systems, or overhead view, were able to construct one of the most amazing feats of architecture with nothing but math, stone, and herculean effort. Reflecting on this while climbing the various pyramids and other structures definitely stirred a sense of pride in what people can accomplish with effort and perseverance. – Mack M.

The Culture of Querétaro

The day we spent in Querétaro was full of beautiful churches and statues. I was very interested in learning about the age of the churches and the work that people put into them constantly. My favorite part of every church was the gold detail inside and the amazing paintings, even on the ceiling. I learned that the streets were originally made to be small, since people used to travel by horse and carriage. The streets have now turned into one-way passages, so traffic in the city can be a bit hectic. I truly enjoyed learning about the culture of Querétaro. – Savanna E.

Gratitude and Greater Understanding

[The morning of our service learning,] three South Africans (Tendai, Marang, and Keo), a few Mexicans, and I (the only American) arrived at AMANC. AMANC stands for Asociación Mexicana de Ayuda a Niños con Cáncer en Querétaro IAP or Mexican Association for the Help of Kids with Cancer in Querétaro. Greeted by two nurses, we headed to the cafeteria, about a quarter the size of the old McFall Hall, for reference.

There we were met with a little boy named, Emiliano, which one of the nurses affectionately called “Emi.” All anyone heard from Emi were giggles and the pitter patter of his six year old running footsteps. Soon about five or six kids and their moms showed up, and we all sat down for a dinner of rice, black refried beans, and chicken or chorizo. I sat down in front of a boy with a black Metallica shirt and enormous silver and green thermos which he was drinking from. His name is Kevin and his mom is Carina, they both have the same large, sparkling brown eyes, and I can feel the closeness of their connection as mother and son.

As we ate, I encouraged some small talk and translated for Marang as she spoke to them. Through this, we found out that Kevin, a nine year old, has osteosarcoma, cancer of the bones and has been coming to AMANC for two years. He goes for five days a month and gets treatment for those five days straight. Pushing through the small talk, we started getting into conversation about trabalenguas or tongue twisters. “Camarón, Caramelo” Kevin and I repeated as fast as we could, Kevin beating me every time, until the words turned into jumbled sounds in the midst of laughter.

In terms of reflecting on this experience, I have been thinking about how I work a lot with kids in rough situations whether that be broken or abusive or unstable families or in food desserts or in poverty. I have realized that when I first started working with these underprivileged kids, whether that be at Oak Grove or at STAR, I would always try to come out of each session with some big takeaway or some profound message. Yet, over the past couple years, I have also come to the understanding that community service is just about trying your best as a team to provide some kind of support or happiness or just an opportunity to fill time with something other than having the kids play video games or something else.

I have learned that, in the short run, community service is this rather than changing their lives or “improving” their communities by infiltrating privilege into underprivileged spaces. So, this is the approach I wanted to take to AMANC; I know that I don’t understand what these kids or what the moms are going through and I don’t think I ever will without actually going through what they are going through. I brought this mindset to AMANC, knowing that I wasn’t going to alter Kevin’s life but rather just spend an hour or so with him and his mom and hopefully bring some joy just within that time. Even if I couldn’t make some grand change, I do believe in the small building up to the large; I hope that Kevin and his mom continue to find joy wherever and whenever they can. Ultimately, I left AMANC with gratitude and a greater understanding of the power and importance of awkward, face to face connection for genuine happiness to form.

– Caroline R C.

Minds That Seek. Hearts That Serve.

The Community Service Day was beautiful! I, along with Matt K., were selected to be in the Reforestation group, which would focus on initiating environmental change.

The day began with everyone splitting into their groups and starting with team bonding. I especially enjoyed this part because it forced people to open up and share some things with the group. Once finished, the group hopped on a bus with the wall painting group and we drove to the same park where both groups would be working.

The reforestation group ended up being delayed as we had to wait for the men who would help us dig holes to plant trees. While we waited, everyone played a game of soccer on a nearby baseball field and I laughed at Matt a lot.

When the men came, they brought a lot of tools and we were able to get to work. We would dig a foot-deep hole, add some water, place the baby tree into the hole, and replace the empty space with soil and water. In the end the group came close to plant around 15 trees and it was incredible!

Since the Wall Painting group was working at the same location, we were able to witness and help out with the wall mural. They worked with spray paint, which allowed Laney R. and Carter N. to get creative, and they spray painted the Mexican flag onto their hats.

Once everyone was finished, we hopped back on the bus and headed towards school to reflect on our work of the day. In our time of reflection, I was so inspired by the comments my teammates were sharing. One of my teammates cut himself while digging, yet he continued to be the most diligent worker of the group. My group leader, a teacher at Carol Baur, also shared a comment that made an impact on hopefully the group. He said “we can create change by not only discussing it within the Model UN committees, but by also going out into the world and physically doing it.” I really enjoyed working with all the other students, and that day also truly proved that the smallest things can make a big impact.

– Carter N.

Today everyone went to a couple different community service sites! I went to CRIQ which was a rehabilitation center in Queretero. I was nervous at first because I was switched into it last minute, but it turned out to be so rewarding and fun. I ended up leading the face painting activity with a couple other people from Mexico! I wasn’t the most artistic painter there but it was so much fun. No matter how good or bad the design, the children were overjoyed. I painted a bunch of spider mans and unicorns. So much fun! – Carson C.

Reasoning with the Heart – BIMUN 2018

Today was the closing ceremony for BIMUN 2018. We started off the day with one last session in our committees then a session for “diploma delivery.”This is when people in our committees vote for funny awards like: Barbie, best dressed, astronaut (head in the clouds), and machine gun (always striking back with a good counter argument).

After this session we went to the closing ceremony at Hípico Juriquilla for awards and speeches. Director of Global Engagement Erica Coffey and Matt K. spoke on behalf of Collegiate. Matt reflected:

On behalf of the students and faculty from the Collegiate School in the United States, we want to thank the students and faculty from Carol Baur for hosting BIMUN 2018.

Everybody has been so welcoming, and it was an incredible experience to learn how to participate in a Model UN conference as well as experience the culture of Queretaro.

On a more personal note, I would like to thank my commitee, the Organization of International Security and Disarmament, for educating me and exposing me to a broad range of perspectives.

In the United States, I come from a family of military service, and I myself plan to serve as well in a few years.

Because of this, I am very interested and would like to consider myself knowledgeable on this subject.

What I had not realized was that all of my opinions and knowledge was from the perspective of the United States.

Debating on this topic and talking with those from varying opinions and stances representing countries from around the world has been nothing short of enlightening for me.

I feel that this is the case for all of my fellow delegates across all of their committees. Again on behalf of my peers, school, and country, I cannot even begin to express my gratitude and thanks to all who made this experience possible.

I would also like to thank Doctora for this wonderful trip and conference and my school is immensely grateful for our relationship with all of the schools present here today.

Then we saw traditional dances by older students of Carol Baur and cute dances by elementary school kids.

Later in the day we had the delegates party and got to witness, and some even participated, in the “bull fight” with a small cow.

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