Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Big News: A Volunteer Grant to Mexico

It was during my initial HR phone screening with a recruiter from my work when I first heard about the Volunteer Vacation Grant. I couldn't believe the company offered a grant to support international volunteer work for one employee per year. It just added to the many reasons I wanted to work there.

Fast forward a year and a half to last December, and I applied for the grant and got it! It is a huge honor and I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to combine so many things I'm passionate about: my job, volunteering, international travel, and food.

When I first thought about where I wanted to go, I considered going somewhere really far away that I had never been before. But when I was honest with myself, I just wanted to go back to where my heart was: Mexico. I've been there 3 times since 2005, and can't get enough.
The last time I was in Mexico was in 2009, and I volunteered with the same organization I will be working with on this trip.

It's called PESA, which stands for Proyecto Estrat├ęgico de Seguridad Alimentaria (Strategic Food Security Project), and is a program of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

My good friend Josafat has worked for them for nearly a decade, and is now based out of their headquarters in Mexico City.

But when I was there in 2009, he was in the small city Tlapa de Comonfort, in the southern state of Guerrero. From Tlapa he would take day trips to rural communities all over the state to help implement and evaluate food infrastructure projects.

Josa and I in Tlapa de Comonfort, 2009
Corn storage, Guerrero, 2009
Helping with community corn de-graining, 2009
You can read more about my first time volunteering with PESA, and the end of that same trip in this post Making Tortillas and Running up Pyramids.

Well, I guess we are going backward chronologically. In 2007 I spent the end of my last quarter of college living with Josafat and his girlfriend, and teaching English in his grad school. They lived in Cholula, a really sweet little city on the outskirts of Puebla City.

The adjective of a person or thing from Puebla is poblano, and indeed, it's where the dark mole poblano originated. That month I did my ESL certificate teaching practicum and ate a ridiculous amount of mole poblano.
The view of smoking Popocat├ępetl from Cholula
View from our front door of the
cathedral atop the Pyramid of Cholula
My first time in Mexico I spent 5 months in 2005. I studied abroad for a quarter at the Universad Latina de America in Morelia, Michoacan, volunteered on organic farms, studied Mayan ruins, and met my dear friend Josafat. How did I meet him anyway? Did I really get college credit for traveling? Find out in this post 10 Years Since Mexico.

I'm leaving this week to fly into Mexico City before spending next week volunteering in rural communities. More to come!

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