My name is Erica Besser and I attend Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. I will be a senior this upcoming year and start my first year in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program. I went on my trip in January of 2019 and had an amazing time.
Why did choose to go on this particular program?
When I went on this trip, I was never planning to go. One of my friends came up to me and told me that they were still accepting people on the trip. So I applied for the cross cultural trip and got in!
Please describe a typical day as an Xperitas program participant in Cuetzalan.
To start off the day, you wake up and have an amazing breakfast prepared by Viky, our lovely tour guide down in Cuetzalan. You get dressed and get ready for your day of work to help the lovely people in Xiloxochico. While working, you get to play with the school kids (I really enjoyed being able to play soccer with the high school kids and learning about them as people) and enjoy an amazing lunch made by some very special ladies. After you get the job done for the day, you go back to Cuetzalan and get to enjoy some time and explore the city. Later, you have dinner at the hotel and can hangout with your friends on the trip and just enjoy the night. That is a typical day in Cuetzalan.
What was your favorite part of the experience?
My favorite part of the experience was being able to connect with the kids in Xiloxochico and the spare time of exploring the city. Being able to connect with the kids made the experience so much better. It really helped bring the cultural aspect to the front and make connections that will never be forgotten. Exploring the city really helped me see the beauty in Cuetzalan and see all the different aspects you do not get to see on a tour. Being able to explore was just amazing and I wouldn’t have traded these experiences for the world.
What new insights or perspectives have you gained from this experience?
A new perspective I gained from this experience was just seeing how different the two countries are. Being in America, we are very blessed with the things we all take for granted. When in Mexico, things are not as nice. They do not have some of the things we take for granted and do not have it as nice as we do. Being able to actually put myself in someone else’s shoes and see some of the hardships they face was extremely eye opening. I loved this experience and cannot wait till I can visit it again someday!
How will this help you in your upcoming endeavors (e.g., personally, school, career goals)?
In my upcoming endeavors, this experience will help me relate to situations and adapt to situations a lot better. I will be able to see a bigger picture and view things in a different light. Being able to adjust those mindsets and perspectives will help me adapt to new situations.
What is the most important item you packed? Why? Is there anything you wish you would have brought?
The most important item I packed was a notebook. I know that sounds really weird but being able to write down my experience each and every day helps me reminisce the days now and look back at the fun times I had. There is nothing that I wish I would have packed because you really do not need much to have an amazing time on this trip. The less you pack, the better honestly.
What advice do you have for future participants?
My advice to future participants is to just embrace everything that is put in front of you. Explore the city instead of sitting in your room. Interact with the kids and ask them questions instead of just letting them ask you questions. Try the new foods that are made for you. Take a notebook and write down all of the cool things that happen every day so you can look back and remember how much fun you have. Most importantly, visit TOCA TOCA!! This experience is a once in a lifetime trip and you will have the time of your life.
As a closing message, I promise you this. This experience will change you for the better. I know that’s cliché to say but it’s true. You will have the time of your life and have experiences you never thought you could have. Enjoy the now and the present down there. You will not regret it.
Erica and a student at the school farewell celebration in Xiloxochico