Creighton Prep of Omaha, Nebraska made its first return trip to Mexico this summer. The high school hooked up with Enlaces last year after violence in El Salvador prompted the chaperones to seek safer options. While Mexico has been on the government’s travel alert for quite some time, Puebla itself is quite secure. So Creighton made the switch to work with us – a choice that would result in a long-lasting partnership.
The adventure was led by Spanish teacher, Tammy Soffran, who enthusiastically volunteered to return after her experience in Cholula last year. She brought with her English teacher, Ron Suprenant and the Service and Social Justice Director, David Lawler. Dave came to Mexico not as a guide, but also to investigate the opportunity for a partnership with Enlaces. After a week with us, Dave promised to continue to support an annual service trip to Cholula and to champion Enlaces through his academic and religious networks .
While the boys were here, they worked diligently in the Mexican summer heat without much complaint. They really were a good group of kids – eager to create physical results from their labor, engaging with community members, excited about the cultural excursions – it was a pleasure to serve them and serve with them. They spent a good deal of their work days out at the new land. They cleared weeds for the amaranth and helped dig a trench to prepare the entry roadway. Additionally, as the Brophy guys prepared the cob, a few of the Creighton guys dedicated their attention to Dona Rosa’s cob oven (see the blog post dedicated to this particular project). Dave and two students, Ross and Dan, experimented with natural pigments and decorated the stove in elaborate floral designs. It was really neat to witness their education and application of natural building principles with their own creative influences. Everyone was very impressed with the end result.
The most moving aspect of their time with us was the way that the Creighton guys interacted with the community. Only a handful of the students spoke Spanish, yet all of them stayed with host families in Tecuanipan. Even the professors dove into the experience. Despite, or perhaps because of, the language barrier, each one of them recounted challenges, cultural similarities and stories that had profoundly touched them. While language is a core instrument of cultural exchange, their observations or creative and silent interactions spoke to our delegation in a way that language sometimes cannot, and laid a foundation for understanding and amity.
Back at the house in Cholula, the boys once again seized the opportunity to tacitly build community. They headed out in search of the soccer field behind Lito’s Pizza around the corner. But before they reached the pitch, they came across a courtyard where about twenty local guys already had a game going. They hopped right in. Tammy says that the students did the same thing with basketball players on a reservation in Nebraska. Sometimes if you have a ball you really don’t need language to connect with people.
We are really grateful for the positive energy, open minds and physical ambition that Creighton brought down this summer. We’re confident that the delegation loved the experience just as much as we did, so I’d call that a success all the way around. See you next year, Creighton!